James Tavernier

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

The official souvenir programme for the Citibank Hong Kong Football Club International Soccer Sevens features a photograph of James Tavernier triumphantly lifting last year's trophy, and the young defender is hoping to get his hands on the silverware again this summer.

Since the competition began in 1999, only Aston Villa (twice) and Urawa Red Diamonds of Japan have successfully defended their title but Newcastle's captain for the tournament is determined for the Magpies to add their name to that list.

United kick off their Group B matches on Saturday afternoon local time, looking to progress to Sunday's knockout stages ahead of of Leicester City, Southern District and Hong Kong Football Club Captain's Select.

In 2012, Willie Donachie and Peter Beardsley's side won all three group games before knocking out Celtic in the quarter-finals, Sunderland in the semi-finals and beating Villa in the final.

Tavernier told nufc.co.uk: "Last year it was really enjoyable to come as a new team, into a new environment. We had a good young team who worked really hard, and it paid off as we won the tournament.

"And this year, we want to win the trophy again. It's going to be a bit harder this year because teams are wanting to take the title away from us but we've got a more experienced team this year and we want to defend it.

"We've got loads who have been on loan this year, lads who have got great experience and obviously young lads like Steven Logan and Rolando (Aarons) who have done great for the Reserves this year so it's looking really positive for the team and it'll show, hopefully, through the tournament.

"We'll go into every single game with a strategy and if we work hard, hopefully the results will come." 

At the age of just 21, former Gateshead, Carlisle, MK Dons and Sheffield Wednesday loanee Tavernier has played more than 50 senior games.

That includes two appearances in the Barclays Premier League and three in the Europa League last season, and such experience has led Donachie to once again hand him the captaincy.

Bradford-born Tavernier said: "I take it really seriously, the responsibility of captaining the team. Being captain of Newcastle at any level is a huge honour and I will give the armband the respect it deserves.

"Hopefully I can set an example and be a leader to the lads and we can win the tournament again."

The Club's official website, nufc.co.uk, is the only place to follow Newcastle United's progress in the Citibank Hong Kong Football Club International Soccer Sevens with match reports, photographs, reaction and more