Sol Campbell has praised Newcastle United’s young guns but believes they need to improve in the final third.
The ex-Magpie, returning to St James’s Park eight years after making his home debut in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea, witnessed his managerial bow end in defeat following a 5-3 penalty defeat in the Checkatrade Trophy.
Campbell watched on as Elias Sorensen grabbed his 18th goal of the season before a late Scott Wilson strike for the visitors sent the game into penalties.
In the shootout, Nathan Harker’s save from Ben Stephenson saw the Magpies cooly dispatch all five spot-kicks as Mo Sangare condemned Campbell and the Silkmen to a second round cup exit.
It has been well documented about Sorensen's red-hot form this campaign - however Campbell interestingly thinks the Toon youngsters struggled on Tuesday evening.
“I thought the Newcastle youngsters were really good. Their careers are on the up.
“They’re at a top side, top club – they’ve got everything going for them.
“For us, we played extremely well against them.
“They want to play football, we want to stop them playing football and we want to play football – so it was a nice kind of chess game going on.
“Their touch is great but I think in the last third their touch was lacking in areas but generally they are top, top players and that’s why they’re at Newcastle – a huge club and massive club around the world.”
Campbell appeared just eight times for the Magpies during his one-year stint in the 2010-11 season – ultimately failing to live up supporters’ expectations.
Nevertheless, the 44-year-old enjoyed his return to Tyneside – as it wasn't the first time he marked an inaugural occasion at Newcastle.
“It’s amazing how those things kind of things link together. There’s even one before, my full debut for Tottenham was here – we won 1-0 – back in the days when I was 18-years-old.
“It’s always nice coming to St James’s Park. It’s a fantastic pitch, the atmosphere is amazing when it’s full – which it always is."