Whilst his teammates were thousands of miles away in America, Newcastle midfielder Olivier Kemen was last night attempting to lead his country into the finals of the Under 19 European Championships.

France played Spain in Katerina (Greece) whilst Greece and Russia followed that game for a place in Sunday’s final.

The French Under 19 Captain sat out the opening 1-0 group win over Austria but then led his country to victories over both Ukraine (3-1) and Greece (2-0), ensuring qualification for the semi-finals with nine points out of nine.

A tight semi-final last night saw Olivier Kemen play the full 90 minutes as he Captained the side once again, the Newcastle midfielder going close a couple of times to breaking the deadlock.

Cruelly though, with only two minutes to go Spain scored the opening goal and then as France chased an equaliser, they added a second deep into injury time.

The other semi-final was more straightforward as Russia trounced Greece 4-0 and they will meet Spain in Sunday’s final.

Presumably Olivier Kemen won’t fly out to America at this late stage to join the rest of the Newcastle squad and will celebrate his 19th birthday on Monday in Europe.

The midfielder was desperate to go out on loan last season and get experience at a higher level than at reserve standard.

Hopefully this time Newcastle will recruit enough decent players this summer, to ensure that the likes of Kemen and Adam Armstrong can go out for extensive loan periods.

Only then it will be possible to start to assess whether they have any chance of making the step up eventually to Premier League level.