Ashington boss grateful to ex-Newcastle United star Olivier Bernard

Former Newcastle United player Olivier Bernard.
Former Newcastle United player Olivier Bernard.
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Ashington FC manager Steve Harmison expressed his thanks to former Newcastle United defender Olivier Bernard after the Colliers brought the curtain down on their pre-season programme with a 1-0 win over a Magpies outfit on Monday night.

The Woodhorn Lane boss said: “After our game last week against Blyth Spartans, we were struggling a bit for numbers and Olivier, along with Neil Saxton, got in touch with youngsters Jack Cooper and two French lads, Eddie and Flávio.

“I thought the three players did really well after coming on as substitutes in the game with Newcastle, so thanks to the help from Olivier and Neil.

“Jack, from Stakeford, has just turned 17 and had already excelled for us against Bedlington last Friday.

“He has been playing for New Hartley and looks a good player who has already been to three or four Scottish teams.

“I am conscious of his age but I also believe he has massive potential and a great chance of finding a full-time club, which would be fantastic for him.

“I don’t think the minutes he has played for us have done him any harm whatsoever where he has played against men in adult football and we’ll see how the boy goes.

“He looked as if he has enjoyed himself and set up the winner for Ben Harmison against Newcastle United.”

Boss Harmison said he was looking to protect his players ahead of their FA Cup tie with Nelson on Saturday.

Defenders Craig Scott and Wayne Buchanan both face fitness tests before the 3pm kick-off.

Harmison said: “We got a confidence lift from the Bedlington win, but we had to protect players for the weekend coming up.

“Damien Stevens and Andrew Bulford only played a half each against Newcastle because we had to have them fully fit for the Nelson tie with Ben Harmison unavailable.”

He added: “In an ideal world, if we had had another defender James Harmison would have been rested against the Magpies. It was a big gamble to play him but we felt we needed to be solid, resolute and organised - and when you have one of your most experienced defenders available, you have got to get him on the field.

“Scott Blandford was another in the same boat because he gives us that solidity in the middle of the field, whilst big Ben Harmison was a handful up top with runners behind him.

“We struggled badly against Blyth, who are higher up the pyramid system, where we were at sixes and sevens all over the pitch.

“I had already said that we had beaten the sides we should have done in pre-season, but against Newcastle, who were similar to Blyth in as much as they kept the ball and moved it around well, we looked like a team.”

With regular keeper Conor Grant suspended, Luc Glasper will make his debut for Ashington between the posts on Saturday after signing from Alnwick Town.