Newcastle United take on Crewe Alexandra on Tuesday in a behind closed doors friendly in York at 2pm.
The Magpies are currently undergoing a pre-season training camp in the North Yorkshire city, with the match taking place at Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate.
Manager Steve Bruce has suggested the friendly may actually go on for longer than 90 minutes against the League One side.
“We will play 11 for the best part of an hour, and then another 11 for another hour,” he told reporters.
“This is an important week for us because let’s be honest: when we go into next week we are playing three [friendly] games and then the season is upon us.”
Indeed, it seems astonishing that Newcastle’s first league game of the 2020-21 campaign will likely take place just 16 days after their first pre-season friendly, but the COVID-19 pandemic has ensured this season will be more congested than any in recent history.
Every minute, therefore, counts for every player, especially with the likes of Jamal Lascelles, Florien Lejeune, Ciaran Clark and Paul Dummett returning from injury.
According to Bruce, the four defenders should be available for selection against Crewe.
“Everybody, touch wood, is training now, so it’s good news for Lejeune. It’s good news for Dummett, good news for Lascelles. Clark’s training as well.
“The only one not training is [Fabian] Schar.”
Clark, Dummett and Lejeune have not featured since prior to the restart, with Lascelles returning well ahead of schedule after suffering an ankle injury against Watford last month.
As for Crewe, they should be on a high after being awarded promotion to League One in June. The 2019-20 League Two campaign was curtailed due to the pandemic, with Crewe in top spot at the time, but Swindon Town were crowned as champions on a point-per-game basis due to their game in hand.
They should have considerably more match sharpness than their opponents, with seven friendlies in the tank already.
Survival will likely be their main aim this season but with Mikael Mandron and Offrande Zanzala signed from division rivals Gillingham and Accrington respectively to significantly bolster their attacking options, there will be quiet optimism of doing so comfortably.