With only seven days to go until Newcastle host Tottenham, interesting to see how many minutes on the pitch for each of the Newcastle players 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 today’s home friendly with Augsburg left to gauge which players should be used, once the competitive action begins.
Newcastle have played St Patrick’s Athletic, Hull, Porto, and Braga, so far, with a maximum of 360 minutes available for each player.
A few things to take into consideration: Paul Dummett only came back on Saturday after being left out with a knock in the first two games, Ki and Schar had extended World Cup holiday so have been eased into things.
Whilst Kenedy has missed the last three friendlies due to his partner having a baby, Gayle left out of the middle two games apparently due to a supposedly impending sale, only to then be played against Braga.
Minutes played in first team pre-season friendlies so far, 29 Newcastle players featuring so far:
There has been a major change between the first two friendlies and the two in Portugal, with Rafa Benitez now playing what looks more or less his first choice team in the games against Porto and Braga.
Whilst younger players such as Longstaff, Yarney, Sterry, Roberts, and Fernandez, were all getting plenty of time in the opening two games, in Portugal they have been limited to brief sub appearances at best.
Ritchie, Clark, Diame, Dummett, and Perez, are the fine with most minutes so far, all pretty much guaranteed to start against Tottenham, so Rafa will be pleased they have got plenty of minutes in pre-season.
However, Kenedy only having 45 minutes is far from ideal, whilst Shelvey missed the Braga match and Lascelles came off at half-time with a knock.
Undoubtedly, Rafa will be desperate to have his best possible team out against Augsburg, interesting to see who he selects.
The chances of any faces starting against Tottenham look low, with Schar and Ki only having 69 minutes each so far, whilst Muto has only just got his work permit.
The only possibility looks to be if Lascelles ends up not being able to play against Spurs, so we would be looking at a Clark/Schar partnership, which was on the pitch as Braga scored their four second half goals.
The whole team was to blame, not just the centre-backs, but needless to say, the presence of Lascelles looks essential if Newcastle are to stand any chance at all of getting off to a positive start next Saturday.