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Opinion

Newcastle players – Number of minutes on pitch after 5 friendlies

3 years ago
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With 30 Newcastle players used in pre-season so far, is the team Rafa Benitez will select against Tottenham in 10 days time looking any clearer?

After the 3-1 win at Wolfsburg, NUFC have now had five friendlies with only only one to go, the home game against Hellas Verona on Sunday.

Listed below are the minutes (out of a maximum 450) on the pitch so far in pre-season for each of the 30 Newcastle players used in pre-season.

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

330 Lejeune

302 Clark

270 Shelvey

265 Dummett

257 Diame

250 Atsu

247 Mbemba

247 De Jong

238 Elliot

235 Perez

225 Mitrovic

222 Hayden

192 Manquillo

185 Aarons

180 Gayle

170 Murphy

160 Ritchie

146 Colback

140 Gamez

117 Yedlin

107 Woodman

105 Darlow

73 Hanley

68 Saivet

65 Lascelles

62 Haidara

31 Merino

28 Roberts

28 Armstrong

15 Lazaar

I think that when you combine the information above (total minutes played in pre-season) with the team selection against Wolfsburg, I think we have a pretty clear idea of where Rafa is heading with his team selection for the Premier League kick-off.

Lejeune (330) and Clark (302) are the two players with most minutes in pre-season and look certain to start together, impressing individually and as a partnership.

Lascelles came back yesterday from injury but still has had only 65 minutes, so for me I can’t see any way Rafa will put him in ahead of the two left footers.

Shelvey (270) and Dummett (265) are the next highest and like Lejeune & Clark, both started and played most/all of the Wolfsburg match.

Diame (257) and Perez (235) are another two who are in the top ten where minutes are concerned but once again only one at most of the pair will start v Spurs, Perez started yesterday in that role behind the main striker and looks favourite at the minute.

Siem de Jong (247) has been given plenty chances in pre-season but failed to impress, he was marginalised to 20 minutes against Wolfburg and looks to have had his opportunity.

Chancel Mbemba (247) has benefited from Lascelles’ absence in terms of getting extra minutes in pre-season and yesterday filled in for the last 20 minutes at full-back with Yedlin injured, looks to be maybe the main cover for right-back at the minute, as well as fourth choice centre-back.

In Yedlin’s absence, Manquillo (192) played 63 minutes when replacing him against Mainz and then the first 70 minutes against Wolfsburg, so is set to start the season in 10 days time in the team.

With Rafa not managing to bring a keeper in, the United boss yesterday went with what he sees as the best available, Elliot (238) starting against Wolfsburg and and then Darlow (105) getting the final 20 minutes. Freddie Woodman had got minutes in each of the first four friendlies but that came to an end as we get near the competitive matches and Woodman prepares to go out on loan.

Atsu (250) looks set to start in 10 days days time ahead of Murphy (170), Benitez going for experience and it was the Ghanaian who started and scored yesterday. I fancy Murphy though to come on at some point against Tottenham.

Hayden (222) has had a solid pre-season and will surely start alongside Shelvey, with Colback (146) not taking part against Wolfsburg and Merino (31) surely certain to be eased in gradually to the Premier League.

Interesting yesterday that Mitrovic (225) got another start and scored, whilst Gayle (180) watched the whole game from the bench. Hopefully no injury worries for our number nine, as Rafa maybe just experimented against Wolfsburg in the second-half, with Diame and then Perez playing the man strike role.

Ritchie (160) missed the first two friendlies but after 2 x 45, he got the first 70 minutes yesterday and will definitely start against Tottenham. Rolando Aarons (185) has done ok in pre-season and the absence of Ritchie helped him get extra minutes but Aarons is set to be on the bench v Spurs.

Interesting if Rafa Benitez did make a transfer breakthrough at this late stage whether he would consider them for a start in this first Premier League game, I would think not, even if it was a transfer fee in excess of what has been spent on any of the five so far.

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