Bailey relishing Wear-Tyne derby clash against Sunderland
Written by Luke Vinton
Owen Bailey is determined for United's second string to begin 2019 brightly in their Premier League 2 clash at local rivals Sunderland on Friday (kick-off 1pm GMT).
The young Magpies begin the new year with a trip to the Black Cats' Academy of Light before facing Sunderland's first team in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday.
With United one point adrift of a play-off spot in Premier League 2's second tier, the under-23s captain insists consistency will be crucial if United are to challenge for a promotion spot.
"We had a good 2018, ending last season quite well and making a bright start to the current campaign," Bailey told nufc.co.uk. "We are still in the Checkatrade Trophy and all the other cups we've taken part in, which is great for the group.
"We'd like to improve our form in the division so starting with a league fixture is perfect and hopefully we can begin with a good win.
"We are in touching distance of the play-offs so it could be a really important year for everyone involved.
"We really need to kick on after suffering some poor league results but if we apply our form from cup matches into our league fixtures, we can reach the play-offs and aim to end the season on a high with promotion."
Newcastle inflicted a 5-0 thrashing on Sunderland back in August, with 19-year-old Bailey breaking the deadlock at St. James' Park.
The Newcastle-born defender was delighted with the manner of the scoreline, but remains focused on the likelihood of a tighter affair on Wearside.
"It was one of the highlights of my career so far," Bailey added. "To score was a great feeling but the 5-0 win was amazing. To be honest, it didn't matter that I scored - it was all about the result.
"To get that win in front of your own fans and family - those who have supported myself, the club and know the size of the rivalry between the two teams - was massive.
"Hopefully, we can replicate that on Friday but we know it will be a tough game. When you beat a team by five goals, the opposition tend to come out firing so we must be prepared for that, but we are hopeful for a positive result."
After joining Newcastle's Academy at the age of seven, Bailey clearly understands the significance of a Tyne-Wear derby clash and believes the fixture brings an extra motivation for the squad to come out victorious against their footballing neighbours.
He said: "In previous years, we have not faced Sunderland regularly as they were playing in the top division so when you play your rivals, it's completely different to any other game.
"Being a local lad, you want to beat them every time you face them. The majority of the squad are from the North East so they know it is very important and even the lads who aren't from the region realise how big this fixture is, so everyone is looking forward to it."
Friday's game will be played behind closed doors, with no public admission.
"Being a local lad, you want to beat them every time you face them. The majority of the squad are from the North East so they know it is very important."