Joe Joyce

By Dan King - Newcastle United Digital Editor

When Newcastle were drawn against Barnsley in the third round of the FA Youth Cup, nobody was happier than the Magpies' Academy Manager, Joe Joyce.

Born in Consett, County Durham, Joyce was scouted by the Tykes as a 17-year-old in 1979 and within three months of signing his first professional contract was a first-team regular. He went on to make nearly 400 league appearances during a 12-year spell which culminated in a testimonial against Manchester United.

So while Tuesday night's game at Oakwell will be one of the biggest games in the young lives of United's next generation, it will also be an emotional occasion for the top man at Little Benton.

"I spent a lot of years at Barnsley and fully enjoyed my time at the club," he told nufc.co.uk. "Since leaving, there have been a number of times I've gone back with different youth teams and they've always been competitive games, difficult games, and we don't expect this one to be any different.

"They always turn out some good players at Barnsley. Over the years, there's the likes of Mick McCarthy, David Hirst and Andy Kiwomya who have come through the youth ranks, and more recently John Stones who went to Everton, so they have got a bit of a tradition of producing good young players.

"They have a development programme which is conducive to producing good teams and good players. We'll be under no illusions that we're in for a tough game and we'll carry out our preparations for this game as we do for every game.

"I've already been to watch Barnsley myself against Huddersfield a couple of weeks ago and we've had them watched in a number of other games so our preparation for this game will be no different. We'll take the game very seriously but what we have to focus on is what we're going to do and the capabilities of our young players, and we believe we've got some good young players.

"Hopefully they can perform on what is a good stage, because we'll be playing at Oakwell, and it should be a good night for everybody.

"I've got some great memories and when I went to watch an under-18 game there recently I tied that in with a 90th birthday for a guy called Norman Rimmington who people may have seen on Sky recently.

"Norman has spent 70 years at the club in every capacity from player to coach to assistant manager and more recently, in my time, as physio, groundsman. He still helps out in the kit room and at the age of 90 he epitomises everything that's good about Barnsley.

"It was a good night; players, managers and staff from numerous generations turned up just to say thanks to Norman for the help that he had given them and it was my pleasure to be there for that night."

Joe Joyce

Under-18s Coach Dave Watson will be in the dugout at Oakwell alongside Kevin Richardson, who also played for the Tykes between 1998 and 2000, but nobody is better placed than Joyce to offer the Toon teenagers some advice about their surroundings.

"I played a few games there," he smiled. "There was always a good atmosphere. There's always a good feel about a game at Barnsley and I think any game that you play on an evening under the floodlights gives the game that little bit of extra atmosphere.

"I think for the first time this season, we'll be putting out what we believe to be our strongest team available - lads that have played regularly for the under-21s will now come back because they're eligible for playing in this competition.

"That's how seriously we take the competition and if we get all of our players fit and available then we would expect some decent things from them."

While Joyce has his own recollections of playing at Oakwell, Tuesday is a chance for Newcastle's youngsters to create some memories of their own. David Beckham recently admitted that winning the FA Youth Cup remains one of the highlights of his glittering career, which demonstrates just how special the competition is.

"That's something that we've promoted with the Youth Cup," Joyce said. "Year on year, the Club are always good; whenever we get a home fixture they try and give the lads the experience of playing on St. James'. Barnsley do the same with their teams. For the young players to experience what first-team players get - running out onto the big pitch, crowds being there - it's a different environment, a different experience, but something which they need to learn to cope with and learn to handle.

"The best players do that and over the years in this competition we've had some decent runs. I remember a team with the likes of Sammy Ameobi and Paul Dummett doing particularly well and the experience they got by playing at Upton Park and at Aston Villa has stood them in good stead so hopefully it'll be the same for a couple of the lads this time."

Look out for interviews with Dave Watson, Rolando Aarons and Greg Olley on nufcTV on Monday