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Gibson chasing play-offs ahead of Tees test

Written by Luke Vinton

Liam Gibson is aiming for Newcastle United Under-23s to continue their winning streak ahead of Friday's Premier League 2 trip to Middlesbrough (kick-off 7pm GMT).

The young Magpies travel to Heritage Park - home of Northern League outfit Bishop Auckland - aiming to move a step closer towards the division two play-offs with a much needed victory against their North east neighbours.

Newcastle currently lie four points adrift of The Boro, who occupy the final qualification place, and Gibson - who spent the first half of the 2019/20 campaign on loan at Grimsby Town - is determined United's second-string can extend their four-game winning streak with a much-needed victory in County Durham.

"When you look at the position we are at in the league, we all want to get into the play-off spots," the Stanley-born defender told nufc.co.uk. "We need to be looking at winning all of our league games until the end of the season so this game against Middlesbrough is massive for us. It's also a local derby so everyone wants to come out on top in those games.

"It'll be a tough one. It's always going to be difficult when both teams are fighting for a play-off place but I think we have enough in the dressing room to hopefully take all three points.

"It's always going to be a different kind of game when you're playing against your local rivals. You saw the other week against Sunderland that it was a tough one but I'm sure the lads will be up for it."

Since the turn of the year, Newcastle's youngsters have won five and drawn two of their eight competitive fixtures during 2020, scoring 19 goals in the process.

Gibson, who has started United's last three games, believes the squad are capable of replicating last season's impressive league campaign, which saw the young Magpies narrowly miss out on promotion to Premier League 2 division one following a 2-1 defeat at Southampton in the play-off final.

"You look at the pace that we have in the team and the attacking prowess we've got," the left-back added. "I think it's probably the best attacking team I've played in with the under-23s. I think we've got a really good chance.

"The game against Scunthorpe (a 6-2 win in the Premier League Cup) backs up the point of how good we are in attack at the moment. If we can carry that onto the game on Friday, we'll see where we can go.

"We were unlucky last year after getting beat in the play-off final. However, I believe we have enough this year where, if we do get into that position, we can go all the way.

"I think there's only a few changes to the team that went all the way to the final so there's that bit of motivation for the a lot of the lads who know with the disappointment of losing last year."

Chris Hogg, who was born in Middlesbrough, was named as the club's under-23s head coach last week and it appears the former Hibernian defender hasn't taken long to make a strong impression on the squad, according to Gibson.

"It's been really good working with Chris," the 22-year-old said. "Everything's been positive. Obviously, he's only had a week or so here so I don't think he's got everything he would like to do across just yet but all the lads are really happy with him."

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