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Opinion

Newcastle United players – Six big positive stories in pre-season

3 weeks ago
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Plenty Newcastle United players getting plenty of minutes in pre-season friendlies.

Eddie Howe working them hard on the training pitch.

A lot of the Newcastle United players confirming the tough love the head coach is dishing out, every player having been given a personal programme to follow during their ‘break’ and recent analysis by the club’s staff, showing this is the fittest a Newcastle United squad has ever been.

That has certainly been evidenced on the pitch, the friendlies played out in public having seen the players looking in great shape physically for the challenge ahead.

Of course, some have gone a little overboard on the actual results in these kickabouts, Newcastle losing by the odd goal against Mainz 05 and Benfica, having previously comfortably beaten Gateshead, 1860 Munich and Burnley. These final two friendlies at St James’ Park on Friday and Saturday will allow tens of thousands to see at first hand against Atalanta and Athletic Bilbao, the Newcastle United players, before they start the season proper against Forest.

However, having watched all the friendlies (played in public) so far, I wanted to point out half a dozen individual success stories that have stood out for me so far.

Kieran Trippier

Hit the ground running in January and looked a class act.

Has looked the same in pre-season. Superb against Benfica and two quality assists.

Obviously I was gutted when he got injured after a handful of games BUT just maybe in terms of this season, that could prove to have been a potential positive. Had been pretty much continually playing football, winning La Liga in 2020/21 and then the euros last summer, then almost straight back into action for Atletico Madrid before signing  for Newcastle. So it is just possible that a break from football earlier this year hasn’t done Trippier or Newcastle United any harm.

Elliot Anderson

The 19 year old has been playing a full part in pre-season AND impressing.

So much so that now the more credible journalists are claiming Eddie Howe has decided to keep Elliot Anderson, rather than sending him out on loan this season.

Having nine subs on the bench and able to use five of them each match, means a lot more opportunity to potentially involve the likes of Anderson. Whilst in training, playing alongside the likes of Bruno G can only have massive benefits.

Sven Botman

Has came in and effortlessly looked like he has been here for some time.

Only 22 but loads of experience already, a Ligue 1 winners medal and played Champions League last season.

The Dutch defender could prove a seriously good signing.

Bruno G

A class apart.

Difficult to believe he made only 11 starts last season. such was his impact.

Looks the part in pre-season and with his eyes on trying to force a regular start for Brazil with the Qatar World Cup looming, I can’t wait to see what he will deliver this season. In pre-season he has been different class to those around him.

Joe Willock

After that incredible scoring run on loan, a strange and largely disappointing season followed.

Not helped by having no pre-season with NUFC as Ashley and Bruce left it so late, things never really improved from there.

Looked to have real fitness issues and it took some time but Eddie Howe did bring gradual improvement.

Goals against West Ham and Brentford, in 2022 he helped Newcastle to seven wins and one draw in his eleven PL starts after the turn of the year. Started getting regularly into goalscoring positions once again.

This pre-season there are similar glimpses of encouragement, three goals in the friendlies so far and only Almiron has scored more.

I think that goalscoring on loan was a freak event but I can certainly see Willock scoring far more than the two goals he managed last season.

Miguel Almiron

I think clearly the best news of pre-season so far, six goals and two assists, Miggy looks like he may well be clicking properly into gear.

Arguably the biggest victim of Steve Bruce, Almiron impressed initially under Rafa when given license to get around the pitch, against Benfica he was the star man. Two excellent goals and was all action, his second goal in particular is worth watching, a great team move from back to front and saw Almiron pick the ball up centrally around halfway, a majestic ball out to Trippier on the right and his return pass confidently smashed home right footed by the Paraguayan.

Miguel Almiron didn’t look like someone who has scored one competitive goal this past year and a half.

There were positive signs at the end of last season and now a great chance he could improve significantly further when the new season kicks off.

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