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Dawson expects tough test for impressive under-23s

Written by Luke Vinton

Coach Ben Dawson is expecting a difficult contest for Newcastle United under-23s as they entertain Premier League 2 leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers on Friday.

The young Magpies aim to continue their strong form in Division Two as they face league leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers at Whitley Park (kick-off 7pm).

Since a 2-0 league defeat at Wolves in August, Newcastle's second string have lost just three times in all competitions, moving into the play-off spots along with scoring an eye-catching total of 37 goals - the highest in the second division.

Although Dawson is hopeful for his side to continue their positive form, the under-23s coach remains aware of the strengths of their opponents following their reverse fixture last summer.

Dawson told nufc.co.uk: "It will be a tough game and another opportunity for the group we have to test themselves and see where they are at in their development. We are playing a team who are flying high in the table so we know it will be a difficult match.

"They've (Wolves) had some good results and, when we played down there, they made it tough in the shape they played and the individuals within that so it should be a good test for us."

Since the opening game of the season - a 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion - United's under-23 squad has seen a number of changes this term, with figures such as Sean Longstaff and Freddie Woodman now involved in United's first team squad along with a host of loan moves including top goalscorer Elias Sørensen, Cal Roberts and Liam Gibson.

Despite a number of important under-23 players gaining experience at senior level, Dawson highlighted the strength in depth of United's current squad and believes consistency is key in order for his players to focus towards maintaining a regular spot in the starting eleven.  

"The team looks drastically different to what it did on the first day of the season against West Brom," Dawson added. "There is a lot of opportunities for people to come in and then part of the development process we keep talking about is getting some consistency.

"Once you've got the shirt, you must be doing everything possible to keep it whether that would be four days before the game when we start building up in training and then making sure that you perform on a matchday. There is lots of opportunities for people who haven't had them earlier in the season to show what they can do. 

"We seem to have enough quality in every position and we have good competition for places. Even though you factor in losing either one or two out on loan, in the senior squad or through injuries, we still have a hard-working and talented group and the challenge for them is to make sure they are consistent with that from game to game." 

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