Today will be our first pre-season game at Hartlepool United in a few hours time, and Keegan will field what he has termed a strong side.
Danny Wilson – Hartlepool United manager
And Hartlepool manager Danny Wilson is pleased to hear that, as he talked this morning:
â€œItâ€™s music to my ears when a club with massive resources like Newcastleâ€™s say they are going to put a strong team out for a game like this,â€
â€œBig clubs can sometimes put shadow players out when they play against League One opposition but they should provide a real test for us.”
“It makes it doubly difficult but it also makes it an exciting game for the players and the fans.â€
We expect Danny Guthrie to be involved but would be surprised if Jonas Gutierrez is, since he’s only been back in training for 5 days, and the last thing Kevin wants to do in these games is to risk players.
Hartlepool are a week ahead of Newcastle in their training preparations, and they have played two games in a mini-tour of Scotland, beating Greenock Morton and drawing 0-0 with Falkirk.
â€œWeâ€™ve had two very competitive games,â€ Wilson reflected. â€œWeâ€™ve come out of it unscathed and got what we wanted.”
“We knew when we organised these games they would be competitive and we werenâ€™t disappointed.â€
29 year-old Goalkeeper Derek Soutar is on trial from Aberdeen, but will not play today, and it may be that former Newcastle goalkeeper Mark Cook will start the game.
â€œWe havenâ€™t made up our minds yet but he wonâ€™t be playing against Newcastle because heâ€™s got other commitments,â€
â€œIn the two games heâ€™s played he hasnâ€™t had too much to do. The goalkeepers havenâ€™t been tested much yet.”
â€œWeâ€™ve got to try and better the team and the club so we need better players. Whether thatâ€™s the case with Derek weâ€™ll decide in due course.â€
Hartlepool have added three players this pre-season in Alan Power, Ritchie Jones and goalkeeper Mark Cook.
It seems that Wilson is satisfied with the way things are going right now:
â€œI donâ€™t think a managerâ€™s ever happy with where they are,â€
â€œBut weâ€™ve got a good young side and the two boys should add to that. Whether they play a major part at this time we will have to see but theyâ€™ve both got great potential.“
“â€œBut itâ€™s never easy coming from reserve-team football into Leagues One and Two. Theyâ€™re tough leagues to play in.â€
Manager Wilson has also said he expects James Brown to play regularly as center forward next season having played out wide during the previous two seasons.
â€œJames has matured in the last 18 months or so, heâ€™s looking physically stronger,â€ â€œThereâ€™s a physical element to playing at this level but the last two seasons have been about getting him acclimatised to the pace of the game as much as anything.”
â€œAnd playing out wide you donâ€™t have big bruising centre-backs up your backside all the time. But heâ€™s a clever lad, weâ€™ve always known centre-forward would be his best position and we think heâ€™s ready to move there now.”
â€œWe canâ€™t rush Michael too much at this stage. Youâ€™ve got to remember heâ€™s only been playing professional football a bit over a year. We see him as an impact player.â€
We expect a good game this afternoon and it will give Newcastle fans a chance to see how the squad looks after a two months summer break.
It will also be interesting to see how young Danny Guthrie fares.