By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Willie Donachie has praised the attitude and work ethic of his Newcastle United youngsters after they cruised into the quarter-finals of the Citibank Hong Kong Football Club International Soccer Sevens.
The reigning champions won all three of their group games, starting with a 2-0 win over HKFC Captain's Select and a 5-0 thrashing of Southern District before finishing with a 2-0 success against Leicester, who also progressed to the knockout stage.
And Reserve Team Manager Donachie told nufc.co.uk: "They were three comfortable victories, really, but the thing that really impressed me was the players' work-rate and how they were prepared to work for each other.
"You're never sure what their attitude will be, for players who have played in the league this year to come here, but their attitude was superb and their work ethic was perfect, and that's what really pleased me.
"It really was a team effort and we created a lot of chances. It's vital that people who can score goals do so, and in him, Brad and Michael we've got people who'll score so we're pretty confident at the moment."
United have fielded the same starting seven for all three games so far, but substitutes Remie Streete, Steven Logan and Rolando Aarons have all appeared in each fixture from the bench.
And Donachie says all three have a big part to play in the tournament as Newcastle look to win the trophy for the second successive year.
"You don't want to come all this way - a 12-hour flight - and not play," he said. "But the spirit amongst them is very good as well.
"They seem to support each other and care about each other which is vital. All successful teams have that.
"And who knows, if we get any knocks or things tomorrow, maybe other people will start."
Waiting for Newcastle in the last eight are Group D runners-up Citizen - narrowly beaten at the quarter-final stage by Liverpool two years ago - and Donachie knows the local side will be no pushover.
"I saw Aston Villa beat them and they were a typical Asian team - they defended deep and tried to hit Villa on the break," he said. "So it's another test and a good experience for our young players.
"It's the knockout stage now and we'll have to raise our game again, hopefully get through that and see what happens.
"And if the players have the same attitude as they did today, it will be some really bad luck that stops us going further in the tournament."
However, there was mixed news for Football Development Manager Peter Beardsley. He was in the dugout as Newcastle progressed in the main tournament but in the Masters section, he could not prevent CLA Discovery Bay - Teddy Sheringham, Darren Anderton and all - from exiting at the group stage.
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. Photograph courtesy of Garrige Ho/Two Up Front