With only 14 days to go until Newcastle host Tottenham, interesting to see how many minutes on the pitch for each United player in the friendlies so far.

So who have been the leading contenders so far and who is it that doesn’t appear to be a part of Rafa’s plans?

The Newcastle boss has only Wednesday’s match at Wolfsburg and next Sunday’s home friendly with Hellas Verona left to gauge which players should be used, once the competitive action begins.

Newcastle have played Hearts, Preston, Bradford and Mainz so far, with a maximum of 360 minutes available for each player.

A few things to take into consideration: new signing Mikel Merino was only available for yesterday’s game against Mainz, whilst Jamaal Lascelles was only fit to play in the Hearts match and Rob Elliot was ruled out against Mainz.

Ritchie was unavailable for the first two friendlies as he was recovering from injury, whilst Yedlin missed Hearts because he was given extra time off after international duty – plus was forced off with a hamstring  injury yesterday.

Minutes played in first team pre-season friendlies so far:

260 Lejeune

227 Mbemba

227 De Jong

212 Clark

212 Diame

195 Dummett

180 Shelvey

180 Atsu

180 Mitrovic

180 Gayle

168 Elliot

165 Perez

165 Aarons

152 Hayden

150 Murphy

146 Colback

122 Manquillo

120 Gamez

117 Yedlin

107 Woodman

90 Ritchie

85 Darlow

73 Hanley

68 Saivet

62 Haidara

45 Lascelles

28 Roberts

28 Armstrong

15 Lazaar

11 Merino

Interesting to see Florian Lejeune picking up the most (260) minutes so far, Rafa clearly wanting a good look at his new centre-back and giving him every chance to potentially ge into the first team and potentially start.

Maybe surprisingly, Chancel Mbemba (227) has been next busiest, though Jamaal Lascelles’ injury will have played a major role in that. Interesting though to see if Mbemba has convinced Rafa he might be worth keeping.

Sharing that second top total is Siem de Jong, also with 227 minutes on the pitch so far. The Dutchman can’t complain he isn’t being given a fair go in the friendlies and more time than likes of Perez (165) and Diame (212) who are competing for the same position. Still a decent total for the former Hull player and is Rafa having a good look at the likes of de Jong and Diame to see how urgent it is to bring in somebody else to replace them.

Ciaran Clark is equal fourth with 212 minutes and looks sure to start the season.

Next best we have Paul Dummett with 195 minutes but next to no competition at the moment for his position.

The next two matches are set to tell us a whole lot more about the direction Rafa Benitez is heading in.

Also interesting to see 20 year old Freddie Woodman (107 minutes) getting time on the pitch in all four games so far, as Rafa brings him gradually along.

  • Jezza

    I would say that a lot of those who have had a lot of game time are definitely NOT part of Rafa’s plans. They have been put in the shop window.

    • TheNutJob


    • steve

      I would say that is idiotic.

    • Rich Lawson

      Yes your probably right with some of them,any prospective new employer wants to see how they are performing now.

    • nevfur

      The same thought crossed my mind particularly as we still have 2 out of our 5 friendlies still to come. We need to move players on and bring in money so these games are also a shop window as well as a last chance to impress enough to stay. One or two still being judged, De Jong springing to mind, and could yet still be moved on if they don’t impress Rafa enough.

    • Down Under Mag

      I’d be surprised if Rafa was sacrificing fitness of his first team selections just to move players on…de Jong and Mbemba could just be having some ‘ultimatum’ pitch time, i.e. perform or they WILL be moved on. Interesting that Riviere wasn’t given even a sniff of trying to impress…clearly hasn’t done enough to show Rafa he’s even worth bothering with.

    • mentalman

      if it was about putting the players in the shop window you’d have 45mins of the first team squad and then 45mins of unwanted players, it wouldn’t do anyone any good at all

  • Alreet

    Whatever happens with al the leavers we need a marquee style striker coming in. None of this holding back. We need a name that will really float the boat and i think rafa knows it.

    Watch this space

  • Down Under Mag

    Will be interesting to see if de Jong and Mbemba have done enough to earn a spot in Rafa’s plans – they would essentially give us two new options over last season and as long as de Jong can keep fit I believe he could be a decent player for us.

    • mentalman

      He seems the only one who we’ve got to play number 10 who is actually adept at playing that position and can play a killer final ball

  • Soldier

    Although Clark was the best defender last season he wasn`t so good against Mainz, a step up in class whereas in the last 2 friendlies Mbemba hasn`t put a foot wrong & he is the youngest defender we have. i think it would be madness to sell him but for some reason Rafa doesn`t seem to like the guy

  • Wor Lass

    If Lascelles is injured and struggling to be match fit in time for Spurs – and with Rafa not fancying Mbemba – then it`s hardly surprising Lejeune is getting lots of game time. Lascelles` injury could be good good news for Mbemba. Personally, I think it would be mad to sell him – not only is he a good CB but he can play in midfield as well. If we`re building a squad with alternatives for every position he should be part of it.

    • mentalman

      he can play right back also and with our only other two right backs being a lot better going forward than defending he’s a good alternative when we need to defend which will be a lot this season.

      • Wor Lass

        I`d say, “He`s played right back” rather than , “He can play right back”. He doesn`t look comfortable there.