Why Sean Longstaff's Newcastle league debut would be better than winning the Checkatrade Trophy
Newcastle United U23s coach Ben Dawson suggests the club's Checkatrade Trophy campaign will be a success - if Sean Longstaff makes another first-team appearance in the coming months.
The Magpies youngsters, without Longstaff, progressed into the third round of the competition on Tuesday evening following a 5-3 penalty win over Sol Campbell's Macclesfield Town.
Younger brother Matty Longstaff replaced his sibling in the starting 11 as the 21-year-old, who made his senior debut against Nottingham Forest in August, marked his new four-year-deal with a place in Rafa Benitez's squad for the trip to Everton tonight.
But while Newcastle's young guns find themselves just three wins away from a Wembley final, Dawson has reiterated developing players remains the number one focus.
“It probably sounds horrible given the result but we’re not necessarily here to get through in the Checkatrade Trophy," said Dawson. "We’re here to get somebody into the first-team.
“It’s great to see. He was on the bench on Saturday, we’ll wait and see if he’ll be involved at Everton.
“But for everyone who has played their part in the process from when he came in as a 9/10-year-old, it’s really good to see and I think there is a little bit of pride for everyone who has been involved in that."
Longstaff, who extended his stay at St James's Park on Monday, has risen through the United ranks as well as enjoying successful loan spells at Kilmarnock and Blackpool.
When asked how much pride he personally takes in Longstaff's rise to the senior set-up, Dawson said: “A fair share – the same as everybody else.
"It’s great to see a local lad get an opportunity. He spent a bit of time with us, he came up quite early as a 17-year-old – got an opportunity with us.
“You look at the opportunities he’s had out on loan, he’s been up with manager (Rafa Benitez) since pre-season.
“There is a lot of people who can say they’ve played their part but not least him. A lot of the responsibility falls on the individual.
“We can provide the facilities, the staff, the coaching, the opportunities but the biggest part comes from the player themselves.”