Dave Watson

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

Dave Watson admits excitement is building round by round among his young Newcastle United squad as they prepare to do battle for a place in the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals this week.

Queens Park Rangers provide the opposition at the Sports Direct Arena on Thursday night (kick-off 7pm) in the fifth round of English football's most prestigious junior tournament.

The Magpies are top of the Premier Academy League Group D and have already defeated Darlington at Watford to reach this stage - where they were knocked out by eventual winners Manchester United last season.

Blackburn lie in wait for the victors in the last eight, having defeated Stoke 4-0 on Monday night, but Under-18s Coach Watson is refusing to look that far ahead. 

"You've got to take one thing at a time, and we'll be doing all we can to beat Queens Park Rangers on Thursday," the ex-England defender told nufc.co.uk. "That's first and foremost in our thoughts.

"We've performed well in the previous games and the closer you get to finals and things like that, the more exciting it gets for the kids.

"So they're really looking forward to it and we hope we can do ourselves justice on Thursday."

The R's beat Everton in the last round, denying Watson the chance to face the team he played for most of his career.

And he said: "Everton are very good at youth level - they've done fantastically  over the years and they produce an awful lot of kids. So for Queens Park Rangers to have beaten Everton speaks volumes for them.

"We've seen them, we know all about them, and we're trying to put a plan together so that we can beat them."

Newcastle have no new injury worries and welcome back forward Adam Campbell, who has been in Portugal with the England under-17 team.

He helped them win the Algarve Tournament and scored on his debut against the hosts before winning further caps in games against Holland and France.

"From the reports that have come back, Adam's done really well for them and it'll do his confidence the world of good," said Watson.

"It's a fantastic achievement being involved with England and he's done the club proud by going out there and not just being part of the squad but performing, scoring a goal and giving a good account of himself. So we're all delighted for him."

Watson is calling on Newcastle fans to turn out in their numbers to watch the club's future stars in action. 

He said: "The more people that come along, the better.

"It's going to be great for the kids to play in front of big crowds, and that's what the development stage of their careers is all about: playing in front of crowds.

"So if you're not doing anything on Thursday night, get yourself along there and come and support the lads."

Thursday's match at the Sports Direct Arena kicks off at 7pm. Admission to the East Stand is by paying at the turnstiles on the night and season ticket holders and Club Members are not entitled to free admission for this tie. Prices are £3 for adults and £1 concessions.