Jamie Sterry feels his hard work is starting to pay off – ahead of the hardest season of his career.
The defender has featured in all four of Newcastle United’s pre-season games.
Tough-tackling Sterry was promoted to the first-team squad by Rafa Benitez.
And the 20-year-old – who started the Bohemian and Lokeren friendlies and came off the bench in Tuesday night’s 2-0 win over Southend United – hasn’t looked out of place in Benitez’s side.
Sterry battled back from a series of injuries to earn a professional deal at United last year, and he is looking to kick on at the club in the Championship.
“I’ve been working hard off-season to get fit,” said Sterry.
“Obviously, playing games is what I want to do. Hopefully, I can push on and keep playing and go into the season strong.
“It’s massive getting experience with top players in the first team under the best manager.
“I’ve been playing in my position, and hopefully I can show him what I can do and keep pushing on.
“It’s really good. It’s good to keep playing games. I’m just looking to the next game. I just want to get a little bit better each time. I’m looking forward to the season.”
“I’ve got to get my recovery right, stay fit and keep pushing on.”
Sterry offers Benitez a welcome extra option at right-back, where the experienced Daryl Janmaat is the club’s first-choice player.
Meanwhile, Newcastle have opted out of the new EFL Trophy.
The club, along with 15 other teams with Category One academies, was invited to play in the rebranded competition, formerly named the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, alongside 48 League One and Two sides.
And the tournament offered the Championship club another route to the new Wembley.
But, unlike Sunderland and Middlesbrough, Newcastle have declined to take part as manager Rafa Benitez plans to loan out many of its Under-23 squad this season.