Newcastle United make the short trip to Gateshead on Saturday for the first game of their 2023/24 pre-season. Eddie Howe's team will kick off against their National League neighbours at 12.30 p.m. in front of a sold-out crowd of 7,200 at Gateshead International Stadium.
The Newcastle Head Coach will be looking to take the first big step towards getting his players ready for a massive season of Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, and League Cup action. He's set to be without a good number of first-team squad members due to injury and general unavailability, though.
Nick Pope (wrist/hand), Emil Krafth (knee), and Joe Willock (hamstring) will miss out due to injury, though Sean Longstaff (foot) is fit again after a good rest over the summer.
Isaac Hayden, Jeff Hendrick, and Ryan Fraser are training with the under-21s and will not be involved at all.
Martin Dúbravka, Sven Botman, Fabian Schär, Bruno Guimarães, Joelinton, Sandro Tonali, Miguel Almirón, Anthony Gordon, Alexander Isak, Garang Kuol, and Callum Wilson only returned to the training ground today (Friday) and so are extremely unlikely to be involved.
This all means that Howe will likely be picking his starting eleven from the following players:
Goalkeepers: Loris Karius, Mark Gillespie, Karl Darlow
Defenders: Kieran Trippier, Javier Manquillo, Harrison Ashby, Jamaal Lascelles, Paul Dummett, Kell Watts, Dan Burn, Matt Targett, Jamal Lewis
Midfielders: Elliot Anderson, Sean Longstaff, Lewis Miley, Matt Ritchie, Jacob Murphy, Allan Saint-Maximin
The likes of Lucas De Bolle, Jay Turner-Cooke, Rodrigo Vilca, Joe White, Amadou Diallo, Cameron Ferguson, Michael Ndiweni, and Dylan Stephenson could all be in contention for inclusion, too, given the number of first-team midfield and forward players missing.
We'd expect to see the now standard 4-3-3 at kick-off, with the following looking like the strongest XI available to us:
Karius; Trippier, Lascelles, Burn, Targett; Miley, Longstaff, Anderson; Murphy, Saint-Maximin, Ritchie
We're expecting to see the debut of the green "Saudi-inspired" away kit at the International Stadium, given that Gateshead's home kit is white and black shirts, black shorts, and black socks.
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe gave an interview to NUFC TV on Sunday, where he spoke about pre-season in general:
"The schedule this pre-season has been very similar to last. It was a five-week lead-in prior to the lads coming back, but they've all done a lot of work individually."
"We've tried to replicate as close as we can to last year, which served us really well. We thought the pre-season was tough but prepared us for a Premier League season. I think this pre-season looks even tougher. So the games will be really tough examinations for us, but in some senses that's what you need because we're going into the hardest league in the world, the Champions League, and various other competitions.
"We know we're going to have to be ready from game one, so the pre-season is designed to get us at our optimal level fitness wise and tactically for Aston
You can watch that full interview below if you are yet to see it:
Gateshead manager Mike Williamson, a Newcastle centre-back the last time was the club was in Europe, had some very nice words to say about his former club ahead of the game:
“I’m delighted for them on many fronts but as a person he (Howe) is absolutely top class.
“The main compliment I can give him is that I absolutely love watching them play now and I haven’t really enjoyed them in seasons gone by, which is no disrespect to anyone. I like watching attacking football with a structure and a real identity and I think that is what he has managed to bring in. He has brought some special nights back to St James Park and it’s something that the supporters deserve.”
“I think the fact they want to help us out means a lot and now they’ve got huge resources and what it will bring will make a massive difference to us as a football club.
“The game behind-closed-doors probably put us in a good light and this year it’s really giving the fans of both clubs something to be excited about in pre-season and Newcastle know what they are going to be facing after we played them last season. It will be a test - although in their eyes it will be about the workload and getting minutes into players, as well as the manager drip-feeding his style of play into his squad.”
You can watch Williamson's full pre-match press conference here:
Unfortunately not, no. All 7,200 tickets were sold out within hours of going on sale.
A live stream will be on offer for the princely sum of £9.99 via National League TV, with the broadcast commencing at 12.20 p.m. You can buy a pass to watch the game here.
Newcastle will not be taking any portion of the streaming income (or gate receipts).
Newcastle hosted Gateshead in a behind-closed-doors friendly at Little Benton last July, with Howe's side running out 5-1 winners on that occasion. Ritchie opened the scoring on the half-hour, with Joelinton scoring a penalty, Almirón netting a brace, and Longstaff rounding things off in the last minute. Paul Blackett got the Gateshead goal.
Other than that, the sides have only ever played each other once before in a pre-season friendly. On that occasion, a Newcastle team managed by Steve McClaren won 1-0 thanks to a Papiss Cissé penalty. Of the players involved that day, only Darlow and Lascelles remain at the club.
Given this is Newcastle's first pre-season fixture, Gateshead have had two warm-up games already, and the squad looks incredibly light, we'll go for an uncomfortable 3-1 to Eddie Howe's Mags.