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Dawson's delight as Academy products shine in FA Cup win

Written by Luke Vinton

Newcastle United under-23s coach Ben Dawson was full of praise for the Magpies' youngsters involved in Tuesday's 4-2 Emirates FA Cup victory over Blackburn Rovers.

Rafa Benitez's squad featured five players brought through United's youth ranks, with Sean Longstaff, Cal Roberts, Freddie Woodman and Jamie Sterry all starting in the Magpies' third round replay at Ewood Park and Nathan Harker an unused substitute.

And it was a pair of Newcastle youngsters who made an instant impact, with Longstaff and Roberts - making his first start for the club - both netting their first goals for United's first-team in the opening 22 minutes.

Former United Academy graduate Adam Armstrong pulled one back for Rovers before the home side levelled on the stroke of half-time through a Darragh Lenihan header.

The Premier League side were made to dig deep in achieving their first FA Cup away victory since 2006, with Joselu and Ayoze Pérez netting in each period of extra time to set up a fourth-round clash with Watford, marking a great night for the Academy.

"I thought the young players who were involved coped very well," Dawson told nufc.co.uk. "They worked hard, doing the basics in and out of possession, and managed to have a positive impact on the game. 

"It was pleasing for everyone at the Academy to see four products starting, with another on the bench, as well as another in Adam (Armstrong) making a successful career with our opponents.

"There is a sense of pride when an Academy product starts for the first team or makes the squad. We are well aware of both Sean and Cal's finishing capabilities so it was no surprise to us they were able to score when the opportunity came along."

It has been a promising start to the year for Dawson's squad, with the under-21s facing Sunderland's senior side in the Checkatrade Trophy's last 16 as well as Sean Longstaff making his full Premier League debut against Chelsea already this month.

Dawson believes his main priority is guiding United's youth prospects into the first-team squad, and is hopeful that his current crop can continue to impress in order to make more senior appearances.

"Sometimes you cannot plan everything in the players' development pathway," Dawson added. "The manager obviously felt that he could trust the young players who played to help the team get a positive result.

"It has been very much a positive start to 2019 for our under-23 players. The challenge for each of them now is to continue working hard and improving each day. If they can do that, and an opportunity comes along, they will be able to give themselves the best chance of being ready to take their chance."

"There is a sense of pride when an Academy product starts for the first team or makes the squad. We are well aware of both Sean and Cal's finishing capabilities so it was no surprise to us they were able to score when the opportunity came along."

Ben Dawson

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