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Watts targeting Tyne-Tees derby glory

Written by Luke Vinton

Defender Kelland Watts is aiming for Newcastle United Under-23s to end their Premier League 2 campaign strongly against rivals Middlesbrough on Sunday.

The young Magpies face their North East neighbours at the Riverside Stadium (kick-off 1pm BST) in their final league fixture of the campaign before competing in the Division Two play-offs, with United situated in fourth place on 37 points.

Watts, who has featured in all 37 of Newcastle's second-string matches this term, is fully focused on the job ahead for United's youngsters whilst the Alnwick-born teenager admitted his desire to come out on top against United's local rivals.

He told nufc.co.uk: "We want to win every game we play in, especially against your rivals. You always want to be on the winning side and we want to end the season on a high note in the last league game of the season before the play-offs.

"We've done very well in the table and we want to go to Middlesbrough and try to win the game to finish in a positive manner.

"We faced a very good Middlesbrough side earlier in the season. We got beat so we won't want them to do the double over us home and away. All the lads will be really up for it.

"It was one of those games where they got the better of us but if we stick to our game plan, which we usually do, we know we can get the right result."

Ben Dawson's side sealed their place in the Premier League Cup final on Tuesday following an impressive 3-0 away win at Leeds United, with Watts opening the scoring at Guiseley's Nethermoor Park with a cooly taken penalty in front of over 3,000 spectators.

The 19-year-old expressed his delight in overcoming the Whites, who included a number of players with first-team experience, as the Magpies progressed into their first Premier League Cup final yet only reaching the quarter-final stages in their last two appearances.

Watts said: "It is brilliant to get in any cup final and doing it in a big competition, such as the Premier League Cup, was fantastic. We'd never reached the semi-finals before and I think we've took every game as it comes, trying to get the win and attempting to play good football. Getting to the final shows the rewards of how the team have done so far this season.

"When you face a team such as Leeds away from home, they are going to start bright and put our side under pressure especially with 3,000 fans supporting them. I think we earned the right of staying in the game at half-time and, with the quality we had going forward and staying compact out of possession, we knew that we could hurt them on the counter attack and in open play.

"I think when we got beat 5-0 against Manchester United, there was no better game for us. It sounds silly because people may feel our confidence was low after losing. It was a one-off cup game on the night and we all went to Leeds with confidence.

"We had nothing to lose and came far in the competition to reach the semi-finals so we didn't really think that if we won the game, we'd be in the final. We were only concentrating on beating Leeds and managing to do that, we earned our reward of going through to the cup final."

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