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Shilow counting down the days to Under-23s' opener at Sunderland

Posted on 8 August 2017  - 18:40

The sense of excitement at the impending start of a new season is reverberating around the whole Academy, according to Shilow Tracey.

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The Development Squad attacker, 19, is eagerly anticipating our Under-23s’ first game of the Premier League 2 season on Friday night as we travel to the north-east to take on Sunderland.

That match will be swiftly followed by our first foray into the Checkatrade Trophy with a visit to Luton Town next Tuesday night and Shilow, for one, is licking his lips at the prospect of what’s to come.

“I’m buzzing at the moment, I’m looking forward to the start of the season a lot!” beamed the former Ebbsfleet youngster, who played his part in our victory at the European Under-21 Tournament in France last week. “All the boys are ready for it. We did well in France and now we’re very excited to start. We’ll be doing everything we can to get our first win on Friday.”

Shilow is hoping to call on the memory of his last performance at Sunderland in the Premier League 2 when we return to the Eppleton Colliery Welfare Ground, where the Black Cats’ Under-23s play their home games. Back in November, 2016, he scored his first two goals at Under-23 level to haul us back from 2-0 down to salvage a point in the equivalent fixture.

“I remember that game well – I got two goals, my first two of the season and we drew 2-2 so I was buzzing with that!” he smiled. “That was also my first time playing up front and I really enjoyed it. It gave me more confidence going into the next couple of games and I hope for more of the same this time. Hopefully I can get some goals in, keep working hard and try to do well for the team. We’ve all been working hard in training, doing a lot of work and staying for some long days so now we have to put everything into action.

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“Our new coaches, Wayne (Burnett) and Justin (Cochrane) are very good, they’ve done a lot of good stuff with us, taught us how to be more like a family and help each other so they’re very positive with us and we’re all very excited to start the season now.

“From last year I remember that it was quite a physical test up at Sunderland but we can deal with that and we can compete with them for sure.”

Understandably keen to focus on each match as it comes, Shilow did afford himself a quick glance towards next week’s Checkatrade Trophy trip to Luton, where we’ll face the Hatters’ first team in a competition that’s historically been cherished among Football League clubs.

“It’s quite different for us because we haven’t been in the competition before but we’re thrilled to be involved. It’s going to be competitive but we feel like we’re ready for it,” he added.

“Luton won 8-2 against Yeovil at the weekend and I know they were very good at keeping the ball and moving it around so we’re going to have to try to stop that and do what we’re good at, press them and try to show what we can do. It’s important that we’re competitive and we have to run smartly, not just run for the sake of it. We’ve got a big squad this year, we have some good players and we’re all looking to compete to the best of our abilities.”

Find our Premier League 2 fixtures for 2017-18 here.

Come and support the Under-23s at Luton Town in the Checkatrade Trophy next Tuesday night - ticket details here.