By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Sixteen-year-old defender Alex Kitchen made his full Reserve team debut for Newcastle on Tuesday night - and came up against £18m man Romelu Lukaku.
It was quite a baptism of fire for the Newcastle-born centre-back but although Chelsea's Belgian international scored twice at Whitley Park - once from the penalty spot - Kitchen put in a granite-like performance alongside captain Jeff Henderson.
The Blues ran out 4-2 winners against a Magpies side also featuring Marcus Maddison, who was making his second-string bow, and Steven Logan in only his second start at this level while fellow Academy players Michael Riley, Dan Taylor, JJ Hooper and Brandon Miele also featured for Willie Donachie's team.
So it was no surprise that Kitchen, who has been with United since the age of nine, described the night as a "great experience" for him and his young team-mates despite their defeat in front of the watching Alan Pardew and his coaching staff.
"It's a pity about the result, but I enjoyed it," he told nufc.co.uk. "Coming up against Lukaku was tough - he's massive, and so strong, but you've just got to put up with that and get on with it and I thought I did okay against him.
"I had a bit of a hard start but then I got to grips with it. I found out yesterday that I was training with the Reserves but I didn't think I was going to start. I just found out in the dressing room before the match."
First-year scholar Kitchen has only recently began to establish himself at under-18 and Reserve level after recovering from a pre-season knee complaint, and is hoping to take advantage of Remie Streete's ankle injury which looks likely to sideline him for the remainder of the season.
"It's unfortunate for him but it's a good chance for me, and I've just got to take it," admitted the former Whickham Comprehensive School pupil, who stands at more than 6ft tall yet doesn't turn 17 until July.
"I was out for six months which was frustrating, because you worry about getting forgotten about and I just couldn't prove myself.
"It was hard but I'm glad to be back playing now and I just hope I can stay clear of injury.
"If I can do that and keep playing games, then hopefully I can keep on proving myself."