NORTHALLERTON Town entertain champions Newcastle Blue Star tonight but manager Paul Burton says he's "excited" by his growing crop of youngsters.
Town fielded four players aged 20 or under in last Wednesday’s defeat at Durham including new arrival and local lad Colin Anderson who impressed upfront with another new signing, Teessider Lee Bowes.
Another new signing, 19-year-old Chris Walker played at right back while comparative seasoned campaigners now Karl Charlton and ‘keeper Sam Dobbs are aged 19 and 20.
Town face a tough test against league and cup champions Newcastle Blue Star tonight (kick-off 7.30pm) but Burton can see decent times ahead.
“If I’m honest it’s the first time in a long time I’ve stood and been quite excited about what I’ve seen,” said Burton.
“I was just really pleased with our performance and endeavour, we had quite a young side and I just thought the attitude was spot on.
“We gave a really good account of ourselves against a good side and I thought the pace of the game for non-league football was fantastic.
“It’s too early to say about the young lads but the intention of bringing them in was to look to the future - if two or three of them come through then great.
“Whether it’s a glimpse into the future we’ll have to wait and see but I was really pleased with what I saw.”
Burton now hopes Town’s youngsters can inspire a points return from tonight’s game at The Calvert Stadium with Newcastle Blue Star.
“They’re a strange team - they obviously won the double - the league and cup last year, and everybody fancies them again this year but the manager leaves, a few players leave and now they are a bit up and down,” said Burton.
“On their day they are still capable of beating anyone in this league and that includes the top sides so it will be a tough one but hopefully we can get something out of that.”
Bar a disaster, Town are surely safe from slipping into the relegation mix but Burton still wants a few more wins to be sure.
He is also warning players that competition is rife for a starting berth in Town’s end-of-seson North Riding Cup Final with Middlesbrough or Scarborough.
“It’s nice as I look at the bottom three and we’re about 18 points clear which means they are going to have to win six or seven from their last ten games,” he said.
“I’m not going to say that won’t happen but you wouldn’t think it would happen on present form.
“I just want us to get up past that 40 point mark but also we’ve got the cup final to look forward to and none of the new lads are cup tied.
Craig Skelton (knee) and Dave Goodchild (ankle) will miss tonight’s game through injury but Steve Cochrane is available again after suspension.
Town were also in action on Saturday and won 3-0 at Billingham Town.