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Bailey excited for Leasing.com Trophy opener

Written by Luke Vinton

Defender Owen Bailey is relishing the opportunity of playing against Football League opposition as Newcastle United Under-21s face League Two Macclesfield Town in the Leasing.com Trophy.

United's second string travel to Moss Rose on Tuesday night (kick-off 7.45pm BST) for their Northern Section Group D clash against the Silkmen, whom the young Magpies defeated in last term's competition after a penalty shoot-out victory in round two at St. James' Park.

And Bailey believes his side have a huge opportunity to excel against senior opposition with the Academy side - one of 16 Category One Academy clubs taking part in the tournament - also facing away ties against Shrewsbury Town and Port Vale.

United's youngsters impressed last year after boasting a 100 per cent win record in Group G - the only Academy side to do so - along with reaching the last 16 before bowing out to Sunderland.

Bailey told nufc.co.uk: "The Leasing.com Trophy is something we really look forward to every year so everyone's very excited. It's massive for all of the lads to show what they've got in front of all the EFL clubs. 

"I think they are probably the first games you look for at the start of the season. It's a big thing because everyone wants to play at different grounds and play against the men and senior teams. It's arguably the biggest fixtures of our season.

"It's a big opportunity for the club as well to prove what we are like against the likes of Macclesfield and other Football League sides and seeing where you are at as a player.

"Ultimately, you want to be playing men's football and you can't really replicate that at under-23 level. You come against some first-team players but it's playing against a full men's team that I think is a really good incentive for players to try and do well."

The young Magpies began their EFL Trophy campaign in strong fashion last term, earning an excellent 3-1 away win against League One Doncaster Rovers.

And Bailey, United's captain, believes the experience gained from a year ago can put his side in good stead ahead of facing the Silkmen, who currently occupy seventh spot in England's fourth tier.

The defender added: "Last season, we beat Doncaster in our first game which was a massive result and from there, we had a good run. 

"We won all of our group games and I think if we hadn't beaten Doncaster, we may not have done. Hopefully, we can try and get a decent result against Macclesfield and do a similar thing to what we managed last year and kickstart our season from this game.

"I think all the lads know what is to come. There's a couple of new faces and they'll not really know what is happening but those who played last year, which is the majority of the squad, will help the other lads through it. That will be important for Tuesday to try and help us get a good result on the night.

"When you've got players around you who have been there and played in the competition before, you kind of know what to expect and they can help you get through the 90 minutes and try to manage the game and situations that are different to what we come up against in the regular under-23s fixtures. It's something that definitely helps.

"Macclesfield are a good side. They were good against us last season and we're not too sure if they have strengthened this year but we know they will be a physical side. They are in the Football League for a reason so they will be a decent test."

Tickets for the game at Moss Rose are available at the turnstiles, priced at £10 for adults and £5 for over-65s and under-25s, with tickets for under-18s priced at £2.

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