Newcastle United coach praises 'brilliant' training ground decision by Eddie Howe

Newcastle United’s return to pre-season training saw several youngsters step-up to train with the first-team.

Tuesday, 5th July 2022, 6:00 am

The Magpies are set to welcome the likes of Sven Botman, Bruno Guimaraes, Kieran Trippier, Nick Pope and other squad players who had been given an extended break back to Darsley Park on Wednesday, July 6.

In the meantime, Under-23s players Isaac Westendorf, Kelland Watts, Joe White and Lucas de Bolle have been training with the first-team.

Last season, Eddie Howe regularly called academy players up to train with the first-team in order to gain experience and help balance the numbers.

Newcastle United's training ground entrance (photo: Frank Reid)

It’s something that Under-23s lead player development coach Elliott Dickman has stressed as a ‘brilliant’ opportunity for his players, one they shouldn't take for granted.

“It's brilliant for us as a club and an academy that players are getting that opportunity to train on a regular basis with the first-team,” Dickman told The Gazette.

“At the end of the day, it's not just an opportunity given to anybody, the lads have got to earn that and one of the main messages we'll have is don't take it for granted.

"Players might have an opportunity there and think it might be there come pre-season but you've got to earn that and keep working hard.

"It's a tough profession and a tough industry and everyone saw how brilliantly the first team did and how well things have gone so the younger lads coming in have got to open their eyes.

"[The Northumberland Senior Cup final defeat to Blyth Spartans in May] was a reality check for some of them so we need to make sure that when they come back in July that they are ready and raring to go.”

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One player who has been given an opportunity to train with the first team is 18-year-old Michael Ndiweni, who scored 14 goals in 19 games for United’s Under-18s side last season.

The teenage striker is one of eight academy players who have recently signed their first professional contracts at the club.

"Up until my injury, last season was one of the best I've had,” he told nufc.co.uk. “I scored regularly for the under-18s, trained with the first-team and was involved with the under-23s so I think I made good progress throughout the year.

"Learning the tricks of the trade from players such as [Callum] Wilson, Woodsy [Chris Wood] and Dwight [Gayle], who are all top level strikers, as well as the gaffer too, helped me improve so much.”

Under-18s midfielder James Huntley also agreed his first professional contract with the club after training with the first-team last season.

"I've trained with the first-team which was a bit of a shock but then that's what I've been coming into training for and try to achieve,” he admitted. “I was a bit starstruck at first but it gives me something to strive for, seeing the quality they produce.”

While Newcastle’s academy players are kept apart from the first-team on a day-to-day basis, keeping them hungry and striving to make the switch from training at Little Benton to working with the first-team at Darsley Park benefits the club's plans to improve its academy set-up in unison with the first-team.