Newcastle United prospect Olivier Kemen trains with first team ahead of New Zealand tour

TOP PROSPECT: Olivier Kemen

TOP PROSPECT: Olivier Kemen

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OLIVIER Kemen is ready to tackle the new season at Newcastle United.

The midfielder, signed a year ago from Metz, has been training with Alan Pardew’s first-team squad this week.

And tough-tackling Kemen is determined to make an impression over the coming weeks.

The 17-year-old was the only permanent signing made by the club during Joe Kinnear’s ill-fated tenure as director of football.

However, the acquisition of Kemen – who had been scouted by Newcastle’s chief scout Graham Carr – looks to have been an astute one given his performances last term.

Kemen impressed at Under-21 level last season and ended the campaign on the fringes of Pardew’s senior squad.

Kemen could get an opportunity in United’s first-team pre-season programme, which kicks off with a fixture against League One club Oldham Athletic at Boundary Park on July 15.

“I’m looking forward to the season,” Kemen told SportMail.

“I’m working hard for that. Hopefully, I can travel with the first team again, play more games and get more experience to improve my game. I’m happy – I’m learning more.

“Every day I’m training with great players. I’m just focused on my progression and giving my best for the team.”

He is one of a number of teenagers who have stepped up to train with Pardew’s senior squad on the first week of pre-season training.

And they are pushing to make the squad for the club’s two-match tour of New Zealand.

United play Sydney FC in Dunedin on July 21. The game is followed by a match against Wellington Phoenix at the Westpac Stadium in the capital on July 26.

– MILES STARFORTH