Five things spotted from Newcastle United’s Saudi Arabia training footage - as four players miss session

Newcastle United have released footage from Wednesday’s training session in Saudi Arabia - and NewcastleWorld picks out FIVE observations.

Newcastle United are enjoying a warm-weather training camp in Saudi Arabia as Eddie Howe looks to build an unbreakable team bond in the battle against Premier League relegation.

With 17 days between the vital 1-0 win at Leeds United on Saturday and the Magpies’ next game against Everton on February 8, Howe was keen to arrange a mid-season training camp.

That led United to Jeddah, where they have been based since Sunday evening.

Howe’s side return to the UK on Saturday after they round off their trip with a behind closed doors friendly against Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Ittihad on Friday.

Newcastle’s media team released footage via YouTube from the club’s training session on Wednesday - and we picked out FIVE observations:

Plenty of smiles and encouragement

Howe insisted the aim of the Saudi Arabia visit was to build stronger togetherness and unity ahead of the relegation fight that lies ahead.

Watching the footage, you got a sense that morale in the camp is high - undoubtedly boosted by that win at Leeds through Jonjo Shelvey’s 75th-minute free-kick.

And while there were plenty of smiles and laughter, it was evident Howe’s men are there to work, and work extremely hard.

During running, possession and attacking drills, lots of encouragement and praise from Howe and his coaching was dished out.

Shouts of “Jonjo, brilliant son” and “well done Maxi” were heard from Howe alone as his backroom team of Jason Tindall, Stephen Perches, Simon Weatherstone and Graeme Jones also got heavily involved.

Federico Fernandez trains individually

The Argentine hasn’t featured for United since playing the latter stages of the 1-0 victory over Burnley in early-December - but there’s evidence he’s stepping up his return.

Fernandez is in Saudi Arabia and undergoing individual training as he continues his recovery from a calf problem.

Howe confirmed earlier in the week the 32-year-old was edging closer to full fitness, though urged caution over rushing him back.

“He’s edging closer to returning to the group,” Howe told NUFCTV.

“He’s not quite there yet so this is a delicate stage with him. We want him back as quickly as possible but we don’t want to push him to where he has a setback.

“We’ve got to try and manage the next bit right.”

During the training footage, Fernandez even found time to give a cheeky wave to the camera, which suggests he’s in good spirits along with the rest of the camp.

Joelinton’s groin strapped, Dummett & Lascelles don’t train

Joelinton (groin), Jamaal Lascelles (hamstring) and Paul Dummett (fatigue) all picked up injuries during the 1-0 win at Leeds on Saturday.

Howe revealed on Wednesday neither of the trio have trained with the group in Jeddah yet, with the extent of their injuries still to be discovered.

“I’m not sure of the extent of the injuries,” Howe said. “I think it’s one of those difficult ones to judge because we may need scans to determine that.

“And we haven’t had the luxury of doing that yet.”

Joelinton’s left groin was heavily strapped up, while Lascelles was captured putting in some fitness work on the bikes. United’s captain did however train on Thursday.

Dummett was videoed coming out of the tunnel at the beginning but was not spotted in training.

Matty Longstaff among the first-team group

Matty Longstaff has been handed a chance to impress in the Middle East as Howe weighs up the midfielder’s next step.

The 21-year-old saw his season-long loan spell at SPFL side Aberdeen cut short due to a lack of playing time, and it is believed Longstaff could depart on a temporary basis again this month.

Competition in the midfield area is already high, with Joelinton joining Jonjo Shelvey, brother Sean, Joe Willock, Jeff Hendrick and Isaac Hayden, when fit, into a well-stocked area.

Indeed, Newcastle are attempting to sign a central midfielder - Bruno Guimaraes of Lyon for example - which would only push Longstaff further down the pecking order.

Still, Howe has been keen to get a good look at Longstaff, who has already proven he can cut it at Premier League level after his stunning debut goal against Manchester United.

Invaluable experience for Max Thompson

One face Newcastle fans might not recognise in the training footage or photos is young goalkeeper Max Thompson.

Highly-rated Thompson, an England under-18s international, was rewarded with his first professional contract recently, and has now jetted off to Saudi Arabia with Howe’s first-team.

It’ll be a fantastic experience for the 17-year-old, who is working closely with goalkeeping coach Simon Smith, plus Martin Dubravka, Karl Darlow, Freddie Woodman and Mark Gillespie.

Speaking about his senior contract in December, Thompson said: “It’s my dream to play for the club and this is a step closer to it, being able to sign that contract and knowing that you’re at that next level to try and push on.

“I hope in the future I can progress with Newcastle - that’s the main goal - and try to push towards that first team and eventually make my debut for Newcastle and play in the Premier League.”

Elliot Anderson and Joe White, two youngsters who were in-and-around the matchday squad over the festive period, were left at home.