Phil Airey

By Dan King in Forte dei Marmi, Italy

After defeat in their opening game of the Torneo di Viareggio, striker Phil Airey says it's a case of "do or die" when Newcastle face Club Nacional on Thursday.

Tuesday's 3-1 loss to Fiorentina means United's Development Squad are likely to require six points from their remaining two group games to reach the last 16 of the tournament in Italy.

So 19-year-old Airey, who made his first-team debut in the FA Cup against Stevenage last month before suffering a hamstring injury, is determined to keep Tyneside hopes alive with a win over the Paraguayan outfit.

Speaking to nufc.co.uk from the team hotel in Forte dei Marmi, the Amble-born ace said: "It's very important that we concentrate on the next two games and hopefully we'll get six points which should see us qualify for the knockout stages.

"It's basically do or die on Thursday."

Airey admits United were taken by surprise by the quality of their Italian opponents on Tuesday evening, but believes the young Magpies have already learnt some valuable lessons from the loss.

He said: "We weren't expecting them to be quite as good as they were, although we knew we were going to be coming up against a hard team.

"But one factor was that Italian rules are different to English rules. You can't get near their players or they go down, which is very frustrating for us.

"So we must be able to adapt to that, and hopefully win the game against Club Nacional."

An old-fashioned centre-forward who uses his pace and strength to get into goalscoring positions, Airey knows he may have to modify his game slightly in order to avoid censure from the Italian referees in this competition.

"It's very hard. In the game on Tuesday, I went for headers, didn't even touch their defender but they went down and got a free kick. So we're going to have to get used to that.

"I only had a couple of half-chances in the Fiorentina game but if given a sight of goal, I'll start taking them. I'm a bit rusty after having a month out with injury but that's to be expected.

"Hopefully on Thursday, I'll put away every chance that I get."