Dave WatsonNewcastle United Under 18 Academy Coach Dave Watson is eagerly looking forward to Monday's FA Youth Cup tie with Sunderland at St. James' Park (kick-off 7pm). The former Norwich and Everton stopper told nufc.co.uk:

"The FA Youth Cup is the most prestigious competition in Youth Football and one that all the lads love playing in. Last year we went out against a good Arsenal team but this season we're aiming to progress as far as we possibly can."

The Magpies edged past Barnsley at Oakwell in the last round, thanks to two Adam Armstrong strikes, and Watson, who played in the competition for Liverpool back in 1978, thinks that game demonstrated the character within this group of players.

"Barnsley gave us a really tough game but in the end we just shaded it and I think we fully deserved to come away victorious. It was good for the lads to play at a 'first team ground' and that's one of the things that sets the competition apart from other games. Having the opportunity to run out at St. James' Park on Monday night will be a really special feeling for the lads and one they should treasure.

"A few of the lads have played at St. James' Park before but for some it'll be the first time as it will be for the Sunderland boys and they, along with our lads, will welcome the opportunity to play in what for most of them will be the biggest game of their careers so far."

Asked about the importance of having already beaten the Black Cats twice this season in the League, the Merseyside born Watson was keen to stress that wouldn't matter one iota come 7pm on Monday.

"The league games are behind us now and this is a brand new game, a brand new occasion and it's all about what happens on the night. Our two wins count for nothing and we have to go out there, earn the right to play and take it from there. Our players have to handle the big stage, handle the pressure of the occasion but football's a pressure cooker environment, that's just how it is.

"All the lads are really looking forward to it and I'm sure there will be a good turn out in the stands to see the game."

Spectatators can pay on the night, priced at £3 for adults and £1 children.