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Wilson nearing injury return ahead of Benfica clash

Written by Luke Vinton

Adam Wilson is relishing the opportunity of playing his first competitive game for more than 10 months as Newcastle United under-23s host Benfica in the Premier League International Cup.

The young Magpies face their Portuguese opponents on Friday night (kick-off 7pm GMT) in the first of three fixtures in Group C, all of which are to be played at Benton's Whitley Park, with Newcastle's youngsters also taking on German outfit Hertha Berlin as well as Blackburn Rovers.

Wilson was a part of United's squad which reached the semi-finals of the competition two years ago, before narrowly losing to eventual winners Porto, and the 19-year-old is eager to begin this term's campaign in positive fashion.  

He told nufc.co.uk: "It's very important to get off to a winning start, and especially for myself after coming back after a very long time out. I just want to get out on the pitch and start playing again.

"The team want to do well because it is the International Cup and Benfica are a big team. I think a lot of the lads want to go out there and show that they can play well and give them a good game so we can get a strong result.

"I think we can learn a lot from playing in this competition because all of our opponents are in different leagues. We also play Blackburn, who are in a higher division than us so it's more of playing better opposition. We can only get better as players by playing these kinds of teams and hopefully we can go out there on Friday and get the win.  

"I think it will be a good experience because they will be different from the other teams we have played. Obviously, we'll have to prepare ourselves for whatever they throw at us but hopefully we can have our style of play and dominate the game.

"It'll be a good test but it's about what we can do. They'll have some good players but hopefully we can be the better team when we step out there on Friday."

For the first time since January, Wilson was named in United's squad to face Port Vale in the Magpies' final Leasing.com Trophy group fixture last week, ending a frustrating, long period on the sidelines.

The teenage forward's last competitive outing came in United's Checkatrade Trophy defeat to Sunderland at the Stadium of Light as the England under-18 international suffered an ankle injury before a reoccurring thigh injury would further halt Wilson's return to full fitness during pre-season. 

"Since January after the Sunderland game in the Checkatrade Trophy, I've been in and out with injuries," Wilson added. "It's been a long time since I played a competitive game. I had an ankle injury after Sunderland and then a thigh injury around February.

"I've been struggling with that injury ever since. I redone it in Spain during pre-season so it's been a long time out for me which has been very difficult.

"It's been my first big injury which has been hard but I've had the right people around me and tried to keep the right mindset and keep working hard so I can come back as quick as possible.

"I've just tried to keep working hard everyday and keep being positive even when it's probably the hardest place to be. The days are all the same, on repeat, and you come in doing the same stuff.

"You're still with the lads in the changing room so you've got to try not to isolate yourself from everyone else but it can be very tough.

"It was unbelievable to be back in the squad against Port Vale after being out for so long. I've been training for a couple of weeks and it was great to be back out on the pitch. When you're in the gym, all you see is everybody training outside and you just wish you were out there and you just can't wait to get back into it.

"When you're actually out there, it feels great and makes you remember you shouldn't ever take anything for granted."

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