Bondswell beaming after first-team bow
Written by Luke Vinton
Teenage defender Matt Bondswell was thrilled to make his first appearance in Newcastle United's first-team squad during Friday's pre-season friendly win at Doncaster Rovers.
In the latter stages of the friendly clash, along with Morpeth-born midfielder Jack Young, Bondswell was handed his first-team debut and the 19-year-old expressed his delight in making his maiden outing for Steve Bruce's side.
The full-back, who joined United in March following his departure from RB Leipzig, told nufc.co.uk: "There was a couple of nerves beforehand but, overall, I was really excited to be able to have the opportunity with the first-team. It's something that everyone dreams of to play for such a massive club.
"It was the day before the game when I realised I was travelling down to Doncaster. I'd reported for training at the academy and one of the coaches pulled me out of the changing room to tell me that I was going up to train with the first-team.
"After we done all the training sessions, I got pulled again as well as Jack (Young) and Tommy (Allan) to say we were all going to travel with the first-team."
With the full-time whistle approaching, the Nottingham-born youngster was handed his opportunity in the closing stages, replacing left-back Jamal Lewis, but the eager substitute revealed he almost forgot to wear an essential piece of equipment upon his entrance to the pitch.
"I was getting really excited," he added. "Again, there were nerves but the overwhelming feeling was excitement to have this opportunity because you never know when the next one will come.
"When I got told to get ready, I had my shirt on but I didn't actually have my shin pads on! I don't like to warm up with them on so I had to quickly run back to the bench and get them on.
"When Jamal (Lewis) was walking over for the substitution, I suddenly realised so I had to go and grab them quickly.
"It was a good experience when I got on. I wasn't on the pitch for a very long time but when I was, I was next to Kell (Watts) in defence and he was saying to just keep talking and you'll settle in quickly.
"Hopefully, for the next time if it does happen, I'll be even more settled and know what to expect."
United were backed by 3,100 travelling fans for the encounter in South Yorkshire, the first time the Toon Army had experienced an away match since a 1-0 win at Southampton in March 2020.
Whilst warming up, both before kick-off and during the fixture, Bondswell admitted he was left in awe of his first encounter with the fervid supporters.
"It was amazing to hear how passionate the fans were," he said. "For many, that would have been their first game that they were able to see the team in however long it has been.
"You could really tell the excitement they had to see their team, even throughout the warm-up and before kick-off. They were so alive and it was great to see.
"We were warming-up towards the away end so we could hear everything they were saying. Even getting my first run-out and hearing them applauding me and everyone else was such a good feeling."
A representative of England at under-18 level, Bondswell has been relishing his time with Newcastle's senior side, training regularly in recent weeks at United's Benton base.
The youngster, who spent eight years at Nottingham Forest's youth set-up before leaving his hometown club in 2016 to join Leipzig, is determined to impress and has been supported by a number of his experienced team-mates.
"I'm learning a lot each day in terms of how they do things," the left-back added. "The quality and intensity is really there to see. Being around the squad is helping me improve myself which is a big positive.
"The players have all helped me settle in and I haven't done that too often before. Jamal Lewis and Jamaal Lascelles have been really good to me. Jamal plays in my position while Jamaal is from the same area as me and has been very helpful.
"Now I've had that little taste of action with the first-team, it has left me wanting more."