Rafa Benitez has started to flesh out Newcastle United’s pre-season plan, ahead of what is set to be a busy 46 game Championship season, plus cup games…

We already knew that the fixtures will be released on Wednesday 22 June and that players would start to report back to the club on Tuesday 28 June.

However, Rafa Benitez says that Friday 1 July is when training will properly start, a week ahead of the training camp in County Kildare, Ireland, which will run from Saturday 9 July to Saturday 16 July.

When announcing the training camp, Newcastle United had indicated that friendly fixtures were unlikely to be part of it, with fitness and training the sole focus.

However, Rafa Benitez intends to have between five and seven pre-season friendlies, which will see a very busy schedule.

Unless the manager decides to have any friendlies in the first week of pre-season before the trip to Ireland, which looks unlikely, the pre-season games look set to all take place between that 16 July return from Ireland and the weekend of Sat 30/Sun 31 July.

This two week window then ends with only a week spare to prepare for the opening Championship games starting on and around Saturday 6 August.

Little wonder that Rafa Benitez has also confirmed that he won’t be heading off on any big summer holiday, saying that the fact he is now based back in the UK within handy reach of the north-west family home ‘is like a holiday for me’.

The Newcastle boss also had a couple of months free after leaving Real Madrid so little wonder he sees preparations for the new season as a priority, rather than any further break away from football.

Only 67 days until the Championship kicks off, the clock ticking ever quicker.

Rafa Benitez speaking to the Chronicle:

“I will stay around, we don’t have too much time.

“When you have been far away from your family like me for two and a half years you stay at home – being with family is like a holiday for me.”

 “I am really pleased to be at Newcastle because my family are happy that I am going to be close to them.

“Of course, you can’t stop working and we have already been working and hopefully we can see something in the next few weeks.

 “We will start on July 1. We’re going to Ireland and we will try to approach the pre-season with the idea of football, that’s what matters.

“We will work as much as we can. We will have between five and seven friendlies – we will have to decide that.

“The idea is to have time with the team and to prepare the team properly. We know we will have plenty of games during the season.”