Six sign first professional deals with United
Written by Dan King
Six youngsters have signed their first professional contracts with Newcastle United.
Tom Allan, Lewis Cass, Matthew Longstaff, Oliver Walters, Kelland Watts and Adam Wilson - all boyhood Magpies supporters - have agreed full-time deals after progressing from the club's Little Benton Academy.
Winger Wilson attended St. Mary's Catholic School and joined United at the age of ten from Newcastle City Juniors. As well as his first professional deal, his form last term earned him a first England under-18 call-up.
"I had a good season last season, especially towards the end getting into the England squad, and it just shows that your hard work pays off," he told nufc.co.uk.
"I'm working towards a dream. It's what you want ever since you're young; when you're at school you say 'I want to be a professional footballer' and now the day has come.
"Hopefully I can carry on from this, keep working towards my goals. I need to kick on from last season, keep improving as a player, keep developing and do my best on the pitch."
Cass hails from North Shields and studied at John Spence Community High School. Particularly strong defensively, the full-back closely watches the likes of Dani Alves and Marcelo as he looks to improve the attacking side of his game and is hoping to follow Paul Dummett's path from Little Benton to the Premier League.
"I'd love to be be able to do what he's doing now," said Cass, who was taken to his first game at St. James' Park by his dad, Mark, as Hatem Ben Arfa scored a sensational solo goal in a 2-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers in April 2012.
"Since a young age, I've always supported Newcastle and I'm just glad to sign for such a big club," he added.
"It's something I've been working towards for several years now and a big thanks to my mam, dad and whole family, and the coaches as well. It's been a hard road but I'm glad to be here.
"Hopefully I can impress the coaches and make a name for myself."
Watts was one of the stars of last season's FA Youth Cup campaign, scoring a hat-trick in the third round against Brighton and also finding the net against Crystal Palace and Norwich.
"If you can deliver in the big games it gives you that extra boost for the other league games and training," said the former Ponteland Community High School pupil.
"I've supported the club since I was a little kid and I've always aspired to be a professional at this club so to finally get the signature on paper feels good. Now it's about impressing and showing what you've got."
Although he shone as a number ten in the young Magpies' cup run, he also played in central defence, midfield and up-front last term.
Longstaff is the younger brother of Sean, who impressed last season while on loan with Blackpool.
"We're pretty close, so we try to help each other," said Matthew, who has been with United since the age of ten. "We're training together at the minute and we come in together so it's nice to do stuff with him. He's a good professional so it's good for me to learn from him."
His father, David, meanwhile, was the first ice hockey player to win 100 caps for Great Britain and Matthew explained: "My mam played netball and my sister has just made the county team, so she's flying as well. Even my grandpa played for Great Britain in ice hockey.
"With playing at the highest level in his sport, my dad knows how to handle certain situations, how to get the best out of yourself, so it's always good to use him as well as my brother when you go through tough times."
Walters is a left-back who went to St. Thomas More Catholic School.
He said: "I've supported Newcastle all my life and had a season ticket with my dad, Brian, for about six years. I've been here since I was eight, progressing all the way through, so to get to this point is great.
"A few seasons ago I had an long-term injury and was out of football for a year, but I've worked hard to get back fit and back playing again.
"My dad used to coach me for my local team, Blaydon, so he's helped me get to this point and my mam's really supportive too. She always wants the best for me."
Allan, meanwhile, first came to prominence when he scored twice in a FA Youth Cup victory over Swansea at St. James' Park in January 2017.
"Before that game, I didn't get too much game time but since then I've been given more chances and that's put me in good stead going forward," he said.
"To be given this opportunity is amazing. I'd say I'm one of the quicker players and I like playing on the defenders' shoulder or even if I'm on the wing I like getting at players one-v-one.
"I don't think defenders really like going back towards their own goal so it creates a different threat."
He broke into the under-23s side towards the end of last season and said: "It gave me a different taste. It's a lot more physical than the under-18s.
"There's a lot of competition for places but I hope to get a chance for the under-23s, take it, and keep my place in that starting XI."