By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
The average age of Newcastle's starting XI on Saturday was less than 24 and James Tavernier believes there are lessons in defeat for United's youngsters despite the massive disappointment of crashing out of the FA Cup at the third round stage.
At 21 years old, Tavernier was one of the more junior players in Alan Pardew's side against Brighton and found himself playing at centre-back after James Perch was unable to continue at half-time. That in itself was an experience for the Bradford-born starlet and one which he coped with well despite a 2-0 defeat at the Amex Stadium.
During loan spells with Gateshead, Carlisle, Sheffield Wednesday and MK Dons in recent months, he became accustomed to winning more often than not but the real test of a player is how they react to defeat. So while he was upset, like the rest of his team-mates, at their cup exit, Tavernier believes the likes of him, Mehdi Abeid, Gael Bigirimana and Sammy Ameobi will become better players as a result.
"It's massively disappointing for such a big club like Newcastle to lose in the third round against Brighton," he told nufc.co.uk. "We knew it would be tough to come to a place like this, and obviously we're not an experienced team, but it's really disappointing that we've came away losing.
"They were a good team, they played good football and they were more experienced than some of our lads, and that's what counts at the end of the day. They did really want it today and so did we but the lack of experience and being without key players, big players, was what cost us.
"Going out of the competition means there won't be any chances for young lads in the next round but we'll try to take some experience for it and hopefully become better players for it."
One of the young players to get an opportunity on the South Coast was left-back Paul Dummett, who made his senior Magpies debut after returning from a successful loan spell in the Scottish Premier League with St. Mirren.
And Tavernier hopes the 21-year-old Geordie can follow his own lead in forcing his way into the first-team picture on the back of impressing while out on loan.
"He's been doing well when he's been on loan so it's a reward, just like when I was out on loan," said Tavernier.
"You get rewarded if you play well when you're out on loan and if the gaffer sees or hears about it then he's going to give you a chance. And when Dummy came on in the second half, he did really well."
While a cup run would have been very welcome on Tyneside, Tavernier accepts that their Barclays Premier League form is the priority and knows that Newcastle still have the Europa League to look forward to.
He said: "We're all disappointed but we'll look ahead to Norwich now which you would probably say is more important at the minute.
"Obviously the Europa League comes in February but we've got a good month where we can really concentrate on the Premier League, get the points that we need and get up the table."
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