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Victor Fernandez furthers Newcastle United first-team claims on Spain tour

Photo: Getty Images

English Premier League

Victor Fernandez furthers Newcastle United first-team claims on Spain tour

The 19-year-old impressed as he featured against Belgian outfit Royal Antwerp.

Newcastle United recently travelled to Spain for a training camp as they attempted to deal with three weeks without a competitive fixture.

Rafa Benitez is an experienced manager and he will have realised the danger that such a gap could pose for his team, especially when it came to the fitness of the squad.

He arranged a training camp in his homeland, which culminated in a unique 135-minute match against Belgian side Royal Antwerp.

It consisted of three periods of 45-minutes, which allowed the manager to give playing time to the fringe players in his squad ahead of the run-in.

Although it gave the opportunity to experiment, only two youth players made the trip to Spain.

Nathan Harker was the back-up goalkeeper as both Rob Elliot and Karl Darlow were struggling with injuries.

The other, Victor Fernandez, caught the eye of Newcastle supporters watching.

Fernandez will be encouraged about further involvement with the first-team, as he was the only young outfield player to feature against Royal Antwerp.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

That is a sign that Benitez considers the 19-year-old as one of the best prospects currently with the club.

The Spaniard joined the club just over a year ago from UE Cornella.

The signing went under the radar, but Benitez has an extensive scouting network and he obviously saw something in Fernandez.

Although he is predominantly a winger, he can play anywhere across the front-line is required.

Soon after joining the club, he spoke of not wanting to aim for too much too early when talking to the Newcastle United official club website:

“My purpose was not to make an impact really quickly, because I’m new and I have to get used to English football – it’s really different from Spain. I hope, little by little, I can keep doing good things here.”

Considering this was very quickly after his move to a new country, Fernandez’s words show maturity and show a glimpse into his character.

Benitez is a thorough manager who likes to know everything about the players that he brings to a football club.

There must have been something about the Spanish winger that made the Newcastle manager believe that he could adapt to English football.

There are no guarantees in football when it comes to young players fulfilling their potential.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

However, the fact that Fernandez was taken on the mid-season tour to Spain suggests that he is on the right path.

He would have been offered guarantees about a route to the first-team squad and his involvement against Royal Antwerp will have been a reward for his progression since moving to St James’ Park.

He came on for the final 45-minutes and showed flashes of his ability.

There was some nice interplay with Dwight Gayle that resulted in the teenager having a shot on goal.

His trickery and direct style caused problems for his marker and he continued to excite those watching when the ball was his feet.

There is more developing for him to do before he is ready for the first-team in competitive action, but his performance against Antwerp was a positive one.

There is clearly talent there and he will be a player to follow over the coming seasons.

Newcastle are at the early stage of their development under Rafa Benitez and that will mean opportunities are there for young players.

Fernandez could have the ability to take his.

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Jake Jackman

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

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