West Ham visit St James Park on Tuesday night, as Rafa Benitez hopes to complete a second promotion of the season.

Understandably more low key than the first team reaching the Premier League, nevertheless, victory over the Hammers would prove to be another considerable success for the Spaniard.

Last season saw Newcastle’s Under 23s finish third bottom of Premier League 2 Division 2, the competition for reserves teams/up and coming players.

That 2015/16 season they finished with only 18 points from the 22 games, with Rafa Benitez at the club and investing time and resources in the youth set-up, that became a third place finish with more than double the points (37).

Top team Swansea went up automatically and then play-offs for the next four to see who also goes up – Newcastle beat Fulham 2-0 in the semi-finals and West Ham defeated Wolves 2-1 – there must be a result on the night, so extra time and penalties if required.

In the normal league season, Newcastle’s Under 23s lost 3-1 away and drew 0-0 away, but won a dramatic Premier League Cup match against the Hammers 4-3 in extra-time.

West Ham Under 23 Manager Terry Westley says his players are desperate to make up for that defeat and are so much looking forward to the chance to play at St James Park again.

If winning tonight it would allow Newcastle’s younger players the chance to play a far higher calibre of opposition week in week out and that can only help their chances of potentially progressing to first team football. The top division of Premier League 2 featuring the likes of Arsenal, Spurs, Everton, Liverpool, Man City and Man United, plus Sunderland…

West Ham Under 23 boss Terry Westley speaking to football.london:

“We were never out of the top four of the league until the last game of the season at West Brom. We have been around it, then had a bit of a dip, then away at West Brom and showed that charcter.

“Now it’s Newcastle in the final to get promoted.

“We have had some really good fixtures this season and this is the biggest of them. What it’s also been allowing us to do is play a young team. We have had some U16s in the team at times.

“It would be a real challenge for the younger players playing in the top league. You can see they are up for it, there is no telling them that they need to be. They already are.

“We wanted to play Newcastle, they have knocked us out of the cup, the lads want to beat them and it’s a chance to play at St James Park again. The lads will be more than up for it. “

  • Wor Lass

    Good luck to the lads tonight. It would be just desserts for them after the season they`ve had and a boost for a true club legend who`s taken some unwarranted stick on here at times from the usual suspects. Playing at that higher level would give us more of a chance of feeding players through to the first team.

  • Steve Smith

    It’s not just a chance to develop by playing higher calibre opponents, it also lets Rafa more easily benchmark our youth setup’s progress and performance against the better youth setups.

    It should mean we see more players stepping up or the right ones making the step up.

  • Andy Mac

    Can we now get someone in charge of this squad who knows what they’re doing ? Beardo, great player but as a motivator………