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Bondswell braced for Boro battle

Written by Luke Vinton

Matt Bondswell is relishing the opportunity of playing at St. James' Park ahead of Newcastle United Under-23s' Premier League 2 visit of North east neighbours Middlesbrough on Friday night (kick-off 7pm BST).

The young Magpies take on their Boro counterparts under the floodlights and supporters being able to watch the Division Two encounter live on NUFC TV, with coverage beginning from 6.40pm (BST).

Rather than competing at Benton's Whitley Park for their home fixtures, United's second-string will play at the club's home stadium and Bondswell, who joined the Magpies' youth set-up in March following his departure from RB Leipzig, revealed himself and his side are looking forward to the Tyne-Tees derby.

The 19-year-old left-back, who made his first-team debut for the Magpies during a 3-2 pre-season friendly victory at Doncaster Rovers in July, told nufc.co.uk: "We're really excited for the game against Middlesbrough, especially as it's going to be the first time some of us have played at St. James' Park which will make it a special occasion. 

"I think playing at the stadium will be a massive factor. Being Newcastle United players, that's where we want to be playing week in week out so hopefully it will give some of us a taste of what it is come.

"We know how much of a big deal it is to play at St. James' Park and how much it means not just to the players but to the fans as well.

"I've played there before when I was at (Nottingham) Forest. It was an end-of-season friendly, I would've been 14 years at the time, and it was a great experience. 

"I remember walking out of the tunnel, not realising how big the stadium actually was and to play on a pitch of that magnitude was great.

"To be able to get an opportunity to play on that pitch definitely means something to me and I'm sure it will be for everyone else involved."

Newcastle's youngsters aim to end a run of three league defeats in a row after suffering a 3-1 defeat at Fulham last week, despite a half-time lead at Motspur Park.

United's under-23s currently sit in tenth place, three points adrift of the play-off spots, and Bondswell - who made his professional debut at the age of 18 whilst on loan at FC Dordrecht in Holland, believes a strong response from recent setbacks can enhance the team's promotion hopes this term.

"It was a tough defeat to take as I felt we were the better team in the first-half," the Nottingham-born defender added. "One thing we have struggled with this season is being able to bounce back from things when they don't go our way.

"Our heads dropped a little bit when things went against us but we're making sure that, especially this week in training, we make sure things stay our way or when they go against us, we are able to come back from it. 

"A lot of goals we have conceded have been from individual errors. When we can cut them out, we feel like we can beat anyone on our day. 

"We've got a lot of games this month, in a short space of time, but the momentum you can get from those games can be a positive. Once you win one game and get into a rhythm, it could be a really good month for us. Hopefully, we can begin strongly on Friday and kick on from that."

Supporters will be able to attend Friday's Premier League 2 clash at St. James' Park, with season ticket holders gaining free admission otherwise it's £3 for adults and £1 concessions. 

The fixture will also be shown live on NUFC TV or via the club's official YouTube channel for free, with commentary from John Middleton. 

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