Key play­ers might be miss­ing - but train­ing at United just smiles bet­ter

PIC­TURES SHOW SQUAD IN GOOD SPIR­ITS WITH BIG BRIGHTON CLASH A WEEK AWAY

The Chronicle - - Nufc - By CHRIS WAUGH New­cas­tle writer chris.waugh@reach­plc.com @ChrisDHWaugh

THE first week in­ter­na­tional break is a strange time for those New­cas­tle United play­ers who have not re­ceived call-ups to their re­spec­tive coun­tries.

With a fort­night’s gap be­tween matches, non-in­ter­na­tion­als have plenty of time to pre­pare for the huge home clash with Brighton a week to­day.

Yet the is­sue with play­ers be­ing away on in­ter­na­tional duty is Rafa Ben­itez does not have a full com­ple­ment of play­ers to work with.

Given a de­cent num­ber of in­ter­na­tion­als are likely to start against Brighton, it is also dif­fi­cult for Ben­itez to prac­tise spe­cific set-piece moves and tac­ti­cal sys­tems with­out those play­ers present.

Yet such a sce­nario also hands un­ex­pected op­por­tu­ni­ties to promis­ing young­sters, while the in­ter­na­tional break also gives in­jured play­ers the chance to re­cover from their ail­ments.

With New­cas­tle hav­ing re­leased pho­tos from one of their ses­sions this week, NUFC writer Chris Waugh takes us through six things he spot­ted from United train­ing... PAUL DUMMETT IS BACK IN

TRAIN­ING

The 27-year-old has missed New­cas­tle’s last two out­ings with a ham­string in­jury and also pulled out of Wales’ squad for the games against Spain and the Repub­lic of Ire­land.

How­ever, seem­ingly the left­back is clos­ing in on a Mag­pies re­turn and will hope to be fit to take on the Seag­ulls hav­ing re­turned to full train­ing.

With Kenedy and Javier Man­quillo hav­ing deputised on the left de­fen­sive flank in re­cent weeks, Dummett re­gain­ing his fit­ness will be seen as a ma­jor boost for Ben­itez.

LEWIS CASS IS GET­TING A CHANCE

WITH THE FIRST TEAM

The in­ter­na­tional break of­ten throws up op­por­tu­ni­ties for un­der23 play­ers to train with the first team, Ben­itez reg­u­larly call­ing across re­in­force­ments from Lit­tle Ben­ton to fill in for the po­si­tions he has been left short by play­ers hav­ing departed to rep­re­sent their re­spec­tive coun­tries.

On this oc­ca­sion, full-back Lewis Cass was the ben­e­fi­ciary, the North Shields-born young­ster pic­tured mix­ing it with the first-team squad.

The boy­hood New­cas­tle fan signed a pro­fes­sional deal with the Mag­pies in July and 18-year-old Cass is seen as one of the most­promis­ing young­sters in the United set up.

THE LESSER-SPOT­TED ROB EL­LIOT CON­TIN­UES TO TRAIN HARD With­out a first-team ap­pear­ance all sea­son - or at all in 2018 - it has been a frus­trat­ing start to the cam­paign for El­liot .

Since be­ing dropped at the end of 2017 - his last ap­pear­ance was against Manch­ester City on De­cem­ber 27 last year - El­liot has found him­self slid­ing down the goal­keep­ing peck­ing order.

He is now third choice be­hind both Martin Dubravka and Karl Dar­low.

With highly-rated Eng­land un­der-21 in­ter­na­tional Fred­die Wood­man also push­ing for a first­team place at New­cas­tle, El­liot faces an un­cer­tain United fu­ture but con­tin­ues to show he is a model pro­fes­sional by train­ing hard with the Mag­pies.

SPIR­ITS SEEM HIGH, DE­SPITE THE

WIN­LESS RUN

Ben­itez him­self has ad­mit­ted in re­cent weeks his play­ers would not be hu­man if their con­fi­dence had not taken a hit given New­cas­tle’s win­less start to the cam­paign - and the cruel man­ner of the de­feat at Old Traf­ford will have been dif­fi­cult for the United squad to take.

How­ever, the Mag­pies dress­ing room is re­silient - they came through a nine-game win­less run last sea­son and fin­ished the cam­paign strongly - and the mood re­mains as up­beat as it could be given the team’s cur­rent plight.

Cap­tain Ja­maal Las­celles is pic­tured laugh­ing in train­ing, Joselu is en­joy­ing him­self too, while Ja­cob Mur­phy even plays up for the cam-

era by en­sur­ing he is snapped leap­ing in the air.

BEN­ITEZ IS AS FO­CUSED AS EVER

Dur­ing the last in­ter­na­tional break, some Premier League man­agers opted to take time off.

For ex­am­ple, West Ham United boss Manuel Pel­le­grini re­turned to Chile for a short spell.

How­ever,, aside from a day or two back on Mersey­side vis­it­ing his fam­ily, Ben­itez uses these fort­nights in order to ad­dress his side’s short­com­ings.

Pic­tured wear­ing the light­weight cast on his wrist which he has sported on oc­ca­sions in re­cent months, Ben­itez is shown lead­ing a ses­sion at the club’s Ben­ton Train­ing Cen­tre. SEAN Longstaff is now a per­ma­nent fix­ture at first-team train­ing.

He may have yet to have been granted a Premier League de­but but mid­fielder Longstaff re­ally is a fully-fledged mem­ber of the New­cas­tle first­team squad.

Hav­ing made his se­nior de­but against Not­ting­ham For­est in the Carabao Cup back in Au­gust, Longstaff has been on the bench for league matches on a few oc­ca­sions since.

He has also im­pressed dur­ing two Check­a­trade Tro­phy ap­pear­ances.

Mo Di­ame and Jonjo Shelvey may be the first-choice cen­tralmid­field pair­ing but Longstaff is now com­pet­ing with Isaac Hay­den and Ki Sung-yueng to be con­sid­ered as their deputy - and the New­cas­tle-sup­port­ing mid­fielder is train­ing with the full squad on a daily ba­sis now.

Un­der-23 player Lewis Cass is get­ting a chance to shine

Rob El­liot is still train­ing hard

Rafa is as fo­cused as ever to try and get much-needed re­sults Spir­its are still high as Jonjo Shelvey (top left), Ja­cob Mur­phy and Ja­maal Las­celles (be­low) show

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