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Dawson reacts to Checkatrade draw

Written by Rory Mitchinson

Ben Dawson insists that Newcastle United’s second string will be “playing the game, not the occasion” when they take on Sunderland in the last 16 of the Checkatrade Trophy in January.

The Magpies’ youngsters will lock horns with the League One side’s first team in the week commencing Monday, 7th January, having seen off Sol Campbell’s Macclesfield Town at St. James’ Park following a dramatic penalty shootout.

The Black Cats – currently third in League One – are the highest-ranked side left in the competition’s northern section, and have lost just two games all season.

Though quick to acknowledge the scale of the task ahead, Dawson stressed that his charges – beaten just once in their last 11 outings themselves – will not be doing anything radically different in the run-up to the clash.

And, asked as to whether his charges had been handed the ideal draw or the opposite, he told nufc.co.uk: “It’s a bit of both!

“Obviously, they are doing really well at the moment in terms of their league form, and it’ll be a really tough game. I think, as much as we’d love to play at St. James’, we’ve been a little better away from home.

“I think the lads are really looking forward to it. As much as it’ll be a tough game, it’ll also be a great experience for a young group of players, and one that they can savour. I’d imagine it’ll be a decent crowd, as well.

“When we played against Sunderland’s Under-23s in the (Premier League) International Cup last year, it was ‘play the game, not the occasion’, and this will be very similar for us. We’ll approach it like we do any other game. We’re not going to do anything special or drastically change anything just because it’s Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. We’ll be really consistent in terms of how we approach it and what we do in the build-up to it.”

"When we played against Sunderland’s Under-23s in the (Premier League) International Cup last year, it was ‘play the game, not the occasion’, and this will be very similar for us. We’ll approach it like we do any other game. We’re not going to do anything special or drastically change anything because it’s Sunderland at the Stadium of Light."

Ben Dawson

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