Players to watch as Newcastle United kick off their preseason friendlies

Dan Barlaser on the ball. (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)
Dan Barlaser on the ball. (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images) /
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Sean Longstaff of Newcastle United. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Sean Longstaff of Newcastle United. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images) /

Sean Longstaff

After a breakout season in 2018/19 under Rafa Benitez, Sean Longstaff’s 2019/20 campaign was a massive letdown. He didn’t look fully fit to start the year after recovering from a major knee injury and quickly fell out of the first-choice midfield. When he did get chances to play, he was often careless in his distribution and lazy with his defensive responsibilities.

He finished the season with just two goals and two assists in all competitions. This preseason, he needs to show the sharp passing and work rate in the middle of the park that made him a target of Manchester United last summer. With Jonjo Shelvey coming off his best season with Newcastle, Isaac Hayden playing well next to him, and the arrival of Jeff Hendrick, the elder Longstaff is going to be in a battle to earn minutes there.

Matty Longstaff

With a new contract in hand, Matty Longstaff enters the preseason as a true first-team player. A year after he impressed his way onto the senior squad radar, he has expectations this time around. Outside of scoring a goal in each fixture vs. Manchester United, Matty’s playing time was inconsistent at best throughout the year and his future was cloudy at the club as the season wore on.

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Now, he’s extended his stay and committed to being a Magpie. It’s up to Matty in the preseason to have that same intensity he had a year ago and be motivated by the new deal rather than complacent because of it. He is competing with Shelvey, Hayden, his brother, and  Jeff Hendrick in a talented midfield group. There are minutes to be earned and the youngest member at that position will need to show some serious hunger in the preseason friendlies to set the tone for this season.