Young targeting Tyne-Tees triumph in Premier League 2 opener
Written by Luke Vinton
Jack Young is "excited" for the Premier League 2 campaign to get underway as Newcastle United Under-23s take on their Middlesbrough counterparts on Friday afternoon.
The division two clash will be played behind closed doors at United's Little Benton Academy (12pm kick-off BST) and Young, an unused substitute for Newcastle's Premier League trip to Manchester City last term, is relishing a return to competitive action.
United's youngsters were on a seven-game unbeaten streak in all matches, sitting one point adrift of the play-off spots before their season ended with immediate effect due to the coronavirus outbreak, which the 19-year-old admitted was difficult to take.
The central midfielder told nufc.co.uk: "We're all really excited for the new season. We've had a few friendly games (against Hartlepool United and York City) to get a taste for it and I'm sure the lads will be looking forward to it because it's a long wait for a proper match given the circumstances.
"We really started to pick up before the season was cut short. We were gutted because we were pushing for the play-offs and looking forward to potentially playing in them.
"I thought we had a good chance of securing promotion, especially with the form we showed towards the end of the season before it stopped and we played some good football.
"For the rest of the lads, the season stopped but, luckily enough, I was able to train with the first-team. It was a big part of the season to miss because those final five or six games can be the most important.
"That was tough because that's what we were playing the full season for to try and get towards. To then be told that couldn't happen was disappointing."
Young, who scored his first goal at under-23 level against Middlesbrough back in October, expects a difficult test against their North east neighbours.
Coincidentally, the young Magpies' last Premier League 2 fixture came against Boro back in February (a 2-0 victory) and the teenager is aiming for a similar result to kickstart their 2020/21 campaign.
Young, who joined United's Academy at the age of seven, added: "Middlesbrough was one of the last games we played (before the coronavirus outbreak). The way we played against them that day was very good.
"They're always close games and it is one of the local derbies so all of the local lads are up for it and I'm sure we'll be telling the new lads how much it means to win these matches.
"There's a few new faces in the team and they've all settled in very well. It's more of a younger squad this season but they are all enthusiastic and very happy to be involved with the under-23s. It should hopefully show in the performances to come.
"I've tried to help them as much as I can. I've been in their position when it's your first year and I know it's tough to start with but hopefully they can gel well. They're all good lads and we should be able to link up well.
"Hopefully, we can hit the ground running and start how we left of because there is a bit of unfinished business. We'll want to take the good run from last season into the new one. That should put us in better stead towards the back end where we can be closer to the play-off positions.
"We are a young team but there's a lot of new ideas and with the new staff in Hoggy (Chris Hogg) and Rammy (Peter Ramage), we're really looking forward to seeing how far we can go. There is a lot of talented lads and we're gelling well. It might take a few weeks to bed in but looks very good."
"Hopefully, we can hit the ground running and start how we left of because there is a bit of unfinished business. We'll want to take the good run from last season into the new one."