Aleksandar Mitrovic and Papiss Cisse were surprise omissions from the Newcastle squad that has arrived in Spain today.
So far, no explanation has been given by the club for the absence of either player.
Papiss Cisse this week declared himself fit and available once again and was expected to be joining in training with the rest of the squad at La Manga – but he wasn’t on the plane.
Aleksandar Mitrovic was an even bigger surprise, Newcastle’s main/only striking hope also missing the trip.
The Serbian striker’s girlfriend is due to give birth in March so that is one possible reason but Steve McClaren has gone to great lengths to say how important this trip is to try and get the squad into shape, so it would be a major surprise if he has allowed anybody to miss the trip, except in extreme circumstances.
The full list of players who haven’t made the trip are:
Tim Krul, Papiss Cisse, Gabriel Obertan, Chancel Mbemba, Massadio Haidara, Sylvain Marveaux, Curtis Good, Ivan Toney, Kevin Mbabu, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Callum Roberts.
Obviously many of these, such as Tim Krul, are long-term injured but another surprise is to see Kevin Mbabu missing out, with the full-back supposedly set to return.
One of those who HAS surprisingly travelled is Fabricio Coloccini, the Captain usually giving these mid-season/knocked out of the cups already/team building trips a body swerve and heads back to Argentina instead.
United have taken 26 players and this includes the currently injured Siem de Jong, Vurnon Anita and Paul Dummett, suggesting that those three are set to be available against Stoke in two weeks time (2 March).
The team are on a five day break and are due to have their first training session at La Manga on Wednesday afternoon.
Steve McClaren has claimed that the reason for the trip was because Newcastle couldn’t find another team in the UK willing and able to give them a game in this enforced no matches period.
With 18 days between Chelsea and Stoke, McClaren said it was essential the players had a game in between.
On Saturday United will face Lillestrom at 3pm local time (2pm UK time) – the Norwegian league due to start in March and so the opposition in the middle of pre-season preparations.
The full 26 man squad that traveled.
Rolando Aarons, Vurnon Anita, Daniel Barlaser, Jack Colback, Fabricio Coloccini, Karl Darlow, Siem de Jong, Seydou Doumbia, Paul Dummett, Rob Elliot, Liam Gibson, Yoan Gouffran, Daryl Janmaat, Jamaal Lascelles, Ayoze Perez, Emmanuel Riviere, Henri Saivet, Jonjo Shelvey, Moussa Sissoko, Jamie Sterry, Steven Taylor, Cheick Tiote, Andros Townsend, Georginio Wijnaldum, Callum Williams, Freddie Woodman