GAEL Bigirimana’s relishing his new career at Newcastle United - even at reserve level.
The midfielder made his first appearance for the club’s second string in last night’s 4-1 win over Gateshead at the International Stadium.
Previously, Bigirimana, signed from Coventry City last month, had only turned out for Alan Pardew’s first team on tour in Portugal, Austria and Germany.
But the 18-year-old was only too happy to make the short trip across the Tyne to get a game for Willie Donachie’s side, captained by left-back Paul Dummett.
Mehdi Abeid and Romain Amalfitano netted first-half goals for a dominant Newcastle, but Micky Cummins pulled one back before the break for Gateshead, who took the game to the visitors in the second-half.
However, strikes from Conor Newton and Marcus Maddison ended their comeback in front of a 1,274 crowd.
“I haven’t played with the reserve team, so it was really good to play with them, get to know them and get 90 minutes under my belt,” Bigirimana told the Gazette. “It was a good workout for us.”
Bigirimana’s focused on impressing between now and the start of the new season on August 18.
And the more football, the better for Bigirimana, who is determined to take all the advice he can get on board from Pardew and the club’s staff.
“Whether it was with the reserves or first-team, I just want to play and improve,” he added. “I want to keep learning from different players. It’s really good playing with these boys, as they’re my age. I want to get to know them.
“If we all keep our heads down and focus on one thing - our football - and try and learn what the manager and staff says, you never know what can happen.”
Meanwhile, Durham-born forward Maddison scored one goal - a stunning lob - and set up another for Newton after coming off the bench for the second half.
“I was a bit nervous when I first went on as it was my first game in a big stadium in front of a lot of people,” said the 18-year-old.
“But I got into the game, and I felt I got better as the game went on.
“I just came on and try to make a contribution to every game I play and do my best.”
On his goal, Maddison added: “A lot of people would say that was cocky, but I just try to play for the team.”
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Elliot; Richardson, Tavernier, Good (Riley, 78), Dummett; Inman, Bigirimana, Newton (Knight, 78), Amalfitano (Nicholson, 46); Abeid (Henderson, 84); Hooper (Maddison, 46). Subs not used: Alnwick, Logan, Miele.