A Tyne and Wear derby is now set to take place in January after Newcastle U21s drew Sunderland in the Checkatrade Trophy.
The academy side will now face the Black Cats’ first team at the Stadium of Light on either the 8th or 9th of January in the next round of the competition.
A place in the quarter-finals is up for grabs and Newcastle’s young side will be desperate to advance further after showing good form up against some decent senior sides.
But League One side Sunderland will be a tough test for the young Magpies, and the match is unlikely to be the derby that supporters are hoping for.
Although it’s a great draw for the u21s, the match doesn’t come without it’s negatives.
A real chance to prove themselves
The academy side’s recent form has received a lot of plaudits in the last few months.
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By now most Newcastle supporters are fully aware of goal scoring sensation Elias Sorensen who has 18 goals this season.
But the team also boasts England’s U20 World Cup goalkeeper Freddie Woodman and promising midfielder Sean Longstaff. Some Newcastle fans have even been calling for them to win places in the first team.
But although the side have performed brilliantly against EFL sides in the group stage, Sunderland are likely to be a cut above.
The Black Cats are promotion contenders in League One this season, and still boast ex-Premier League players in their side.
However this can only be good news for the academy players.
Players like Longstaff and Calum Roberts have been desperate to get more first team opportunities this season. Proving themselves against a League One outfit could be a big step towards that goal.
The crowd they deserve
Along with Chelsea and Man City academies, Newcastle are the only youth side to progress to the third round of the Checkatrade Trophy.
It’s a phenomenal achievement and the team are certainly worthy of some recognition.
Man City and Chelsea academies have huge financial backings and are expected to impress, but Newcastle u21s have exceeded expectations.
A North East derby now guarantees them a huge crowd, and will potentially be the biggest match they’ve ever played in.
Newcastle fans have long been aware of their success, but this draw may convince them to come out an support the youngsters.
Are they ready for a derby atmosphere?
With pride on the line, there’s already fears the match could become a feisty affair.
But how many of the youngsters will be ready for a derby atmosphere?
The Checkatrade Trophy also played host to The Potteries derby last week between Port Vale and Stoke City U21s.
A 7,000 plus crowd attended the match, and the atmosphere proved too much for the young Potters.
The academy side were humbled 4-0 by Port Vale’s first team and a minority of Stoke fans were deeply upset.
Hopefully there’ll be no such scenes at the Stadium of Light, but a poor performance from either side has potential to stir up tempers.
Will Newcastle keep their players?
With the match taking place in January, Newcastle U21s may not be able to boast some of their star players.
Due to their recent performances, many of the youngsters will be wanted by EFL sides in the transfer window. Sorensen and Longstaff are favourites to go out on loan, while Woodman has been linked with a move since October.
If they are already planning their January moves, how many are likely to be around for the Sunderland game?
It means there’s a possibility Newcastle fans wont get to see some of the young talents they were hoping too. Without them, it’s also not likely to be a very fair contest, as Sunderland already have a huge advantage.
But whatever these youngsters choose to do, January looks guaranteed to give them some fantastic experiences in their development.