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South Shields International Tournament kicks off tonight, with Celtic facing Marseille

Shields battle against Hebburn (yellow) in Wednesday's 3-0 friendly victory. Picture by Kevin Wilson
Shields battle against Hebburn (yellow) in Wednesday's 3-0 friendly victory. Picture by Kevin Wilson

Football’s young stars are set to descend on South Tyneside this weekend to take part in the South Shields FC International Tournament.

Celtic, Marseille and Southampton are bringing their Under-23s teams to Mariners Park for the competition, which also involves host club South Shields.

It is a three-day weekend which has been talked about for some time, and it will get underway tonight when Celtic meet Marseille at 7.30pm.

Shields will make their debut in the tournament tomorrow when they face Southampton at 3pm, before things are brought to a close with a third-place play-off on Sunday at 1pm, and a final at 5pm.

Mariners joint manager Lee Picton says his side are relishing the prospect of coming up against top young talent over the weekend.

He said: “There is real anticipation and excitement at the prospect of three top football clubs coming to Mariners Park.

“We’re going to have to mix and match a little bit across the weekend, because to play two games in two days, we’re going to have to have more than 11 or even 16 players who can do a job for us.

“That will give more opportunities to some of the young players.

“It could be a fantastic experience for the lads we’ve worked with in the academy to rub shoulders and pit their wits against the likes of Southampton, Celtic and Marseille.

“We’re really looking forward to it.”

Tickets for all games will be available to buy at the turnstiles.

Tonight and tomorrow’s matches are priced at £10 for adults, £8 for over-65s and students, and £3 for under-16s, while a ticket to watch both of Sunday’s games costs £15 for adults, £12 for over-65s and students, and £5 for under-16s.

Southampton’s team will be managed by former Tunisian international defender Radhi Jaidi, who also played for the likes of Bolton Wanderers and Birmingham City.

Among those in the squad is Jake Hesketh, who made his Premier League debut for the Saints in 2014.

Ex-Celtic, Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa forward Shaun Maloney is among Celtic’s coaching staff for the weekend.

Included in the squad is 18-year-old Jack Aitchison, who became Celtic’s youngest-ever player and goalscorer in May 2016 when he netted with his first touch for the senior side against Motherwell, aged 16 years and 71 days. Shields will be hoping to continue their impressive pre-season, having won three of their four games so far.

, including a 3-0 victory over neighbours Hebburn Town on Wednesday.