The draw for the Checkatrade Trophy’s knockout stages took place on Friday, and Newcastle U21s will be relishing playing their round two opponents.
The young Magpies will play League Two side Macclesfield Town in the round of 32, in the week beginning 3rd of December.
And they will likely fancy their chances against The Silkmen.
Newcastle have done fantastically well in the competition so far, topping group G and winning all their games.
These included victories against League Two sides Notts County and Grimsby Town, and perhaps more impressively League One side Doncaster Rovers.
But the competition will be a lot harder from here on out, with EFL sides likely to start fielding stronger teams in the knockout stages.
Many EFL clubs have been critical of the competitions introduction of top-flight academy sides.
None of them want to be embarrassed by a youth team, and so Newcastle U21s will soon have their work cut out for them.
But Macclesfield’s current form will give hope to the youngsters.
Macclesfield’s poor form a boost for Newcastle
Macclesfield are currently rock bottom of League Two and are struggling for results.
They are seven points behind the rest of the bottom three and have won just one game in 18 matches.
They also have the second-worst tallies in League Two for both goals scored and conceded.
In fact, the only competition in which they’ve had any success this season is the Checkatrade Trophy.
But even then they’ve not been entirely convincing.
The only team they managed to beat in their group was West Brom U21s.
In their other fixtures they were hammered 4-1 by Accrington Stanley and managed a 3-3 draw with Blackpool.
In the Checkatrade Trophy group stages, any match that finishes a draw must end in a penalty shoot-out, the winners of which earn an extra point.
And it was a penalty shoot-out win against Blackpool which has seen them scrape through to the next round.
Newcastle U21s will be full of belief before the match as their own form couldn’t be better.
Newcastle’s promising youth
The reserve side has been impressing recently and has only lost one match since the start of October.
Their form has seen many supporters calling for first-team opportunities for a select few.
Elias Sorensen has been singled out in particular after scoring his 15th goal of the season in the team’s previous EFL Trophy match.
But flying under the radar is winger Callum Roberts, who has eight goals and seven assists in just 12 games.
And pushing for a place in the first-team is midfielder Sean Longstaff. When injuries have permitted it this season he has found himself a place on the bench for Rafa Benitez’s side.
If the U21s can continue to perform against senior sides in the EFL Trophy, there may well be more first-team spots up for grabs.