Newcastle United's refreshed stadium set to open turnstiles as Eddie Howe's side make low-key start to pre-season
Newcastle United’s pre-season will get off to the lowest of low-key starts today.
Eddie Howe’s team will kick off their warm-up campaign with a behind-closed-doors fixture against Mike Williamson’s Gateshead at the club’s training ground, which is being rebuilt this summer.
New signings Sven Botman and Nick Pope could be involved, though they only reported back for pre-season training on Wednesday.
The game will be a training exercise, which comes a week after the bulk of the squad returned to the club’s Benton base. Fans, however, will have to wait a little longer to get a first proper look at Botman – who joined the club last month in a £35million deal – in a United jersey.
Supporters are snapping up tickets for the two home friendlies later this month – and the July 30 fixture against Athletic Bilbao is heading for a sell-out – and this season will be Newcastle’s most watched in a long, long time given the demand for seats.
Howe has just under a month to prepare his players for Newcastle’s season-opener against newly-promoted Nottingham Forest at St James’s Park on August 6.
United’s head coach may trim his squad further ahead of next week’s training camp in Austria after Dwight Gayle, Ciaran Clark and Jeff Hendrick were told to train at the academy ahead of expected summer exits.
In the meantime, those Newcastle fans attending the Super League’s Magic Weekend this weekend will get their first look at a revamped St James’s Park
The concourses and hospitality areas, neglected during Mike Ashley’s ownership, are being brightened up.
St James’s Park has been ringed by work vans over the past couple of months as joiners, painters and tradespeople freshen up the stadium, which has badly needed an internal makeover for a number of years.
There’ll be no tiny TVs, damp toilets or dangling cables when the turnstiles are opened. The investment is welcome, as the stadium will most likely to sold out for every game next season.
This is a low-key start for what will be the highest-profile campaign at the club since the Sir Bobby Robson era.