Newcastle United's third pre-season game of 2023/24 sees them beginning their participation in the Premier League US Summer Series. The Magpies will face Aston Villa at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Kick-off is at 7 p.m. local time, which means midnight in the United Kingdom (Sunday night/Monday morning).
Having beaten Gateshead 3-2 and won 2-1 at Rangers in Allan McGregor's testimonial, Eddie Howe will be hoping to maintain his side's 100% record in pre-season to date, though this will undoubtedly be the sternest test his side has faced so far.
Luckily for Howe, he'll have a stronger squad available to him than he has had before now, with almost all of his senior players involved in full training and gunning for more match practice. There's also the small matter of a Harvey Barnes debut, too, with the flying winger now officially a Newcastle United player.
Harvey Barnes is Stateside and in the squad for the game, with a debut expected for the 25-year-old.
Joelinton has overcome his visa issues to join his teammates in the United States and is expected to feature, despite missing the Rangers victory and a number of training days while trying to get everything resolved.
Martin Dúbravka will also be present, having completed his extended period of time off following international duty with Slovakia earlier in the summer. There's still no word on Garang Kuol, though, and he is not in Atlanta with the rest of the lads.
Nick Pope (wrist/hand), Jamaal Lascelles (thigh), and Jacob Murphy (shoulder) have been pictured back in full training and should also take part. Joe Willock (hamstring) and Emil Krafth (knee) seem set to miss out once again, however.
Allan Saint-Maximin is in the process of completing a move to Saudi Pro League side Al-Ahli, so will not be involved, while Ryan Fraser, Isaac Hayden, and Jeff Hendrick are once again excluded from the squad.
Here's the full list of players that Howe will have at his disposal in Philadelphia:
Goalkeepers: Nick Pope, Martin Dúbravka, Loris Karius, Karl Darlow, Mark Gillespie
Defenders: Kieran Trippier, Javier Manquillo, Harrison Ashby, Fabian Schär, Jamaal Lascelles, Alex Murphy, Remi Savage, Sven Botman, Paul Dummett, Dan Burn, Matt Targett, Jamal Lewis
Midfielders: Sandro Tonali, Sean Longstaff, Bruno Guimarães, Elliot Anderson, Joelinton, Jamie Miley, Lewis Miley, Joe White, Jay Turner-Cooke, Miguel Almirón, Anthony Gordon, Harvey Barnes, Matt Ritchie, Jacob Murphy, Ben Parkinson
Forwards: Alexander Isak, Callum Wilson
It would be a surprise to see Barnes in from the beginning, but he should feature from the bench. Here's how we think Howe will go from the first whistle:
(4-3-3) Pope; Trippier, Schär, Botman, Burn; Tonali, Guimarães, Joelinton; Almirón, Isak, Gordon.
About as strong as he can, basically.
The US fans will surely want to see the black and white, and that's what they should get, given that Villa's kit doesn't clash with ours in any way. It's likely to be black and white shirts, black shorts, and white socks for Howe's side. Villa should line up in claret and light blue shirts, white shorts, and light blue socks.
Howe conducted a full press conference alongside Lascelles yesterday, but there wasn't too much said about the Villa game specifically. You can check out our full breakdown of the conference, as there were plenty of interesting topics covered.
Howe's most relevant comment was:
"The camp's been really good so far, we've enjoyed it. The weather's been a bit of a challenge for us, believe it or not. It's been very wet and we've had a bit of lightning as well, so the pitches have been a bit wet. But apart from that, it's been really good. The hotel's been good and we've been well looked after."
And Lascelles later added:
"It's been great for the team. I think since the manager's walked through the door he has always tried to implement a lot of team bonding stuff and we've done bits of that as well since we've been here. We went to the baseball game the other day, which was a fantastic experience for us and a chance for us to see each other outside the training pitch and spend some good time with each other."
Villa gaffer Unai Emery had this to say about playing in the US:
"I like to come here because we have very good facilities, we can play matches to show off our clubs and show off our league. I think it's very important to be here and the players are being very positive. Of course, the travel is a little bit long, but the fans deserve it and we want to enjoy it."
This is the first game of Newcastle's pre-season that hasn't sold out almost instantaneously, which is no surprise given the size of Licon Financial Field. Standard (non-resale) tickets are still available for between $40 and $200 on Ticketmaster.
The game is being broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK and Ireland, while NBC Sports has the rights in the USA. NUFC TV will be showing the game for free outside of those regions here.
The two clubs have met 171 times in league and cup action, with Newcastle having won 73 (43%) of matches and Villa having won just 59 (35%). Here's the full record between the sides:
We can't find any record of Newcastle playing Villa in a friendly, though we did play their city neighbours Birmingham City in the 2003 FA Premier League Asia Cup in Kuala Lumpur, in not too dissimilar pre-season circumstances to this.
This should be a hugely competitive fixture for a pre-season affair and memories of our humbling at Villa Park in April will surely be stirred up in the players and coaching staff. We'll go for an exciting 3-2 win for Newcastle.