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Hackett fired up for Foxes trip

Jordan Hackett is hopeful Newcastle United Under-21s can begin the calendar year in positive fashion ahead of Monday's Premier League 2 trip to Leicester City (kick-off 7pm GMT).

The young Magpies host their City counterparts at the Foxes' Training Ground aiming to bounce back from a narrow 3-2 away defeat against Manchester United's second-string last month.

With Newcastle's youngsters currently situated in 21st place of the division, two points adrift of the top 16 spots which ensure a single elimination play-off at the end of the season, Hackett is targeting a strong run of results to advance up the league ladders.

The 19-year-old full-back told nufc.co.uk: "We're all looking forward to the game and we all want to start 2024 with a win and a strong performance. Results haven't been going our way during the season but we want to start the year in the correct way.

"We reported back before the new year and everyone has come back in good spirits after Christmas and really looking forward to training and getting back into playing football.

"I think we'll expect the same test to what we experienced when we played against them a few months ago. They have good attackers and we know it will be a tough match. We've been preparing well, both physically and mentally, for this game.

"There's still quite a lot of games in our season and the aim is to move further up the table so we can qualify for the top 16 spots."

Hackett suffered an ankle ligament injury and featured in the latter stages of Newcastle's Premier League 2 trip to Manchester United in December, the teenager's first game at under-21 level since September. 

A representative of England at under-18 level, Hackett believes the setback has allowed himself to focus on areas off the pitch as he targets a first competitive league start of the 2023/24 campaign.

He added: "I picked up the injury when I was training with the first-team before their Champions League game at home to Milan and I've been working hard to get back to full fitness. 

"At first, it was really hard mentally, but I told myself I just had to get on with it as that's life and I put my head down and focussed on getting back. My weight has gone down and I have gained muscle so I feel my body is in a great place and I think I'm in a great place.

"I can't wait. I'm itching to get back playing again and feel ready."  

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