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Cass targeting positive pre-season ahead of Celtic clash

Written by Luke Vinton

Defender Lewis Cass is hopeful of maintaining his strong start to pre-season as the young Magpies host their Celtic counterparts on Sunday.

Newcastle's second-string, who host the Bhoys' under-23 side at Newcastle's Little Benton Academy (kick-off 2pm BST), began pre-season in strong fashion following a 2-1 away victory over Hibernian's Development Squad on Monday in their opening fixture of the 2019/20 season.

And Cass, who plays primarily as a centre-back, netted the winner for the young Magpies during their friendly clash in East Lothian, and expressed his delight in scoring his first goal for the under-23 squad.

The 19-year-old told nufc.co.uk: "Pre-season is going really well. All the lads have got together and been in high spirits. We managed to get a good result against Hibernian and everyone seems to be pulling together in the right direction.

"I think we controlled the game quite well. We made the opposition do a lot of the running, especially in the second half. We controlled the ball strongly and managed to get a positive win. 

"We were pleased with the two goals that we scored. The first was a well-worked team goal after a great ball over the top by Rosaire (Longelo) and then a good finish from Luke (Charman).

"The second (goal) came from a set-piece, which we had been working on all week so it just shows that people are applying training into games, which is very positive for the upcoming season. 

"We had hit the post from the original corner and then, after another cross from Jack (Young), I was able to get into the right position at the right time and luckily it managed to go in.

"It was a great feeling when I saw the ball hit the back of the net, realising I'd scored my first goal for the under-23s. One of my targets for this season is to try and get more goals as I didn't manage to score last season.

"We need to get a good week of training and try to go for the win against Celtic. As a team, we want to get more minutes into our legs before the first game of the season.

"They are a team we are unfamiliar with playing against so it should be a good test for ourselves in preparation for the season.

"Obviously we want to go into every game with a winning mentality but it's about getting minutes on the pitch and playing well with gaining a strong performance. If we do that, the result should take care of itself."

Cass' fellow team-mates, Elias Sørensen, Kelland Watts, Tom Allan, Matthew Longstaff and Owen Bailey all made their first team debuts for United in a 4-0 defeat against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League Asia Trophy semi-final.

The North-Shields born defender, who was named on the bench in the Magpies' final day victory over Fulham last term, aims to take inspiration from the five youngsters' second half spell in Nanjing on Wednesday and chase the dream himself of playing senior football for his boyhood club.

Cass added: "I'm delighted for all of the players who made their debuts against Wolves. You can see that all the hard work they have put in actually pays off. Hopefully, a few more lads can get that chance too.

"Seeing the lads play in China and do very well for their first game with the senior team, it gives me a lot of motivation to try and do what they're doing at the moment.

"Being on the bench (against Fulham) was a completely different experience to under-23 football. When I was sat watching, I saw up close how quick it is compared to youth level.

"You know that you need to be physically stronger and mentally quicker around the pitch. I need to improve on those things and if I can do that then hopefully my chance will come."

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