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Langley hoping youngsters can finish with a flourish

Written by Rory Mitchinson

Dan Langley thinks that Newcastle United Under-23s are capable of rounding off their Premier League 2 Division Two campaign “in style” over the next four days.

The Magpies welcome Aston Villa to St. James’ Park on Friday night (7pm kick-off) before taking on Fulham at the club’s Little Benton Academy on Monday lunchtime.

Back in August, United started the season with thumping victories against Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion away from home, but their form in the Premier League 2 nosedived over the autumn and winter, ending any hopes of a play-off charge.

However, after exiting the Premier League International Cup at the semi-final stage the previous week, Monday’s 4-1 win at Reading came as a timely morale boost.

It showed, according to Langley, just what the Magpies’ second string are capable of on their day, and the teenage stopper is hopeful of more of the same when title-chasing Villa arrive on Tyneside this evening.

“I think, in the cup competitions – until recently, where sadly we’ve gone out of a couple – we’ve been really good – we’ve been solid, and kept the confidence going through the team. In the league, I don’t think the place shows how we’ve performed at all,” he told nufc.co.uk. “In games, we’ve played well, we just haven’t got the results. It showed against Reading what we can do – a team pushing for the play-offs against a team second-bottom, and we go and beat them 4-1.

“All the lads were solid, the shape was great, and the set-plays were a main factor in the goals we scored. The one thing we needed was a clean sheet, though they did have an attacking threat as well. It shows we can go off in style, and hopefully we can keep that going until the end of the season.”

Langley – not 18 until December – only joined the Magpies’ Academy in September, but has already done enough to force his way into United’s Under-23 squad, providing cover for Nathan Harker since the New Year.

He was an ever-present as Dave Watson’s Under-18s made it to the Fifth Round of the FA Youth Cup, and the stopper admitted that his first season on the books has gone better than he could ever have imagined.

“I was planning on going to Sixth Form, but I was offered a trial here and a week before I had to go back (to school), I was given a scholarship!” he explained. “At the start, I just wanted to get used to the surroundings and cement my place as an Under-18 player – I just wanted to try and get in the squad, play a few games and get used to the full-time environment of being a football player.

“I think I’ve surpassed most of those, so I’m really happy with how it’s went. The lads are great, and the coaches have been quality with me as well.”

Tickets for Friday's game are priced at £3 for adults and £1 for concessions. Season ticket holders can attend for free.

"It showed against Reading what we can do – a team pushing for the play-offs against a team second-bottom, and we go and beat them 4-1."

Dan Langley

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