NEWCASTLE United’s Dan Barlaser’s dreaming of going all the way in the FA Youth Cup – after achieving his lifelong dream of turning professional at the club.
United’s Under-18s take on defending champions Chelsea in the FA Youth Cup at St James’s Park tonight (7.05pm kick-off).
At stake is a place in the semi-finals of the competition, which Newcastle last won 30 years ago with the help of a youthful Paul Gascoigne.
Chelsea knocked United out at the same stage last season – they won 3-2 on Tyneside – and midfielder Barlaser is hopeful that the club can progress at the expense of their in-form visitors.
Admission to East Stand is free, and Barlaser and his team-mates are hoping for a large turnout at St James’s Park.
“It’s a really big game – hopefully, we can win,” Barlaser told the Gazette.
“They’ll bring a good team here, but if we’re organised and press them well, I don’t think they’ll like it.
“The lads have done really well this year. Hopefully, we can get another win and get in the semis.”
Newcastle beat Sunderland on penalties at the Stadium of Light in the last round after a goalless 120 minutes on Wearside.
The Chelsea tie is the club’s first home game of the competition this season, with the club having also beaten Millwall and Middlesbrough on their travels.
A two-legged semi-final tie against Nottingham Forest or Tottenham Hotspur awaits the winners.
Reflecting on the Wear-Tyne derby win, Gateshead-born Barlaser said: “It was unbelievable.
“I was astonished at how many fans came. They were out-singing all the Sunderland fans.
“It was nice for all the lads. Beating them at the Stadium of Light was unbelievable.”
Versatile Barlaser, 17, signed a professional deal at United a week ago – and hours later scored for Newcastle’s Under-21s against Arsenal at St James’s Park.
The Turkey Under-17 international said: “I’ve been dreaming about this since I was little. I’ve been here since I was nine.
“Hopefully, I can be here for many years to come.
“I started off as a striker, and then I started playing more in midfield. I’ve played right-back, and I can play in midfield, so I’m quite versatile.”
Coach Kevin Richardson, meanwhile, is looking for a repeat of the team’s performance against Chelsea last season.
Olivier Kemen and Adam Armstrong scored for Newcastle in front of a crowd of 2,504 at St James’s Park, but the tie was decided by a strike from Jeremie Boga.
“We had a good game against them last season – it was a very good game – and I believe we’re the team that tested them the most,” said Richardson.
“We’ll try to repeat that, and see where it takes us.”
Striker Armstrong, 18, added: “The youth cup’s a massive tournament and all the lads love it.
“When we played last year, it was a massive buzz and now we’ve got Chelsea again so we’ll see what happens.”