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Ferguson fully focussed for Darlington friendly

Written by Luke Vinton

After making his debut for United's second-string last week, teenage forward Cameron Ferguson is "striving for the challenge" of making the step into under-23s football this term.

Newcastle United Under-23s travel to Darlington, members of the National League North, on Saturday, 24th July for their second of five pre-season fixtures before beginning their 2021/22 Premier League 2 campaign.

Chris Hogg's side suffered a narrow 2-1 defeat at League Two outfit Harrogate Town on Sunday in their first friendly of the summer and Ferguson, who made his United bow as a second-half substitute at the EnviroVent Stadium, is anticipating a difficult encounter against the Quakers.

The 18-year-old striker, who joined from Tranmere Rovers in June, told nufc.co.uk: "It's more minutes in the tank for us and it's also some great experience whilst aiming to gel more as a team. We're playing against another senior side which will be a physical challenge and we're expecting a tough game.

"We're not too fazed and we're going to look to do our best to get a good result. The result may not matter too much in pre-season but we want to play some good football and get more minutes in ahead of the season starting.

"Playing against men is going to develop and prepare us. There is a lot of contact, trick of the trade stuff, and they have that experience. We can learn things and also pick up on a lot of things which will be a great test for the group."

Fergsuson, son of former Newcastle United forward Duncan, had previously been at Everton following a spell in Spain and the tall, left-footed forward completed a successful trial with the Magpies last term, which included a goal against Sunderland at under-18 level.

The Liverpool-born teenager reflected positively on his maiden appearance for United's youngsters against Harrogate last weekend, his first clash against senior opposition, and is determined to gain valuable experience in the early stages of his career.

"It was great to get my first minutes in the tank," he added. "I really enjoyed it, it was my first game in Newcastle colours, and a lot of the lads haven't had much game time for a couple of months so everybody was excited to get going.

"Leading up to the game, the training was good. We were prepared and ready. Although we haven't been together for a while, I thought we gelled very well in the game and despite not getting the result, there was a lot of positive stuff to build on.

"It was a strong, physical game and great for pre-season. That was the first time I'd played in mens' football which was tough but exciting. The lads rose to the occasion, in Harrogate's stadium, and I thought we handled it well. We all showed great enthusiasm and did not back down from the challenge."

"It's a big step for me (moving up to under-23 level). I am 18 years old and have come from a lower league club so to come from that position to a Premier League club is a massive step. I'm striving for the challenge and I'm really excited to play against some class opposition."

Since arriving on Tyneside, Ferguson has quickly settled into his new surroundings and is raring to go, revealing his father - who spent two years at St. James' Park - has also provided the youngster with some key advice.

"He's very happy for me and told me to go out and just do my best," Ferguson Jr. admitted. "The fans are unbelievable and he was so happy when he was here. He really enjoyed the atmosphere so he has said to work your hardest, fight for the team and be a team player.

"That's all you can give and the Newcastle fans will always back you. Hopefully, I can keep going and work my absolute hardest for the team.

"The club has been fantastic so far, both the lads and staff. I'm over the moon to be here and to play some minutes for the club is a great honour. Hopefully, there's more to come and I can't wait to get into the rhythm of the season and being a Newcastle player.

"I'm also looking forward to playing with my team-mates as, in the training sessions we've had so far, they have all shown their qualities. The team is strong, the atmosphere is good, and we can't get wait to get started."

Darlington will be streaming the pre-season friendly live on Quaker TV, with kick-off at Blackwell Meadows taking place at 3pm (BST).

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