With the Premier League campaign on pause for the next fortnight due to the international break, Newcastle United have returned to the Middle East for the second time in three months.
Just hours after the 2-1 win at Nottingham Forest on Friday night, Eddie Howe’s squad jetted out to Dubai from East Midlands Airport. Similar to December, United made a week-long visit to Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, during the World Cup break.
There is a 17-day gap between Forest and the home clash against Manchester United on Sunday, April 2 (kick-off 4:30pm). Howe revealed during his post-match media duties at the City Ground the players will enjoy a period of rest before resuming training.
“Immediately it’ll be a little bit of rest after an intense period of game, then we’ll get back to training and preparation for Manchester United,” said Howe. He then told BBC Newcastle: “I think we’re away for about five or six days. We’ll be training and making sure we’re fit and focused for the last part of the season.”
With the likes of Anthony Gordon, Emil Krafth, Loris Karius and Harrison Ashby present at the City Ground, despite not being named in the 20-man matchday squad, it was presumed all players, except those called up for international duty, would feature on the trip to Dubai.
However, as per social media, Brazilian duo Bruno Guimaraes and Joelinton are among the players not with the squad - at their request. Guimaraes and his partner Ana Lidia Martins are in the Maldives, while Joelinton is back in Brazil alongside fiancee Thays Gondim.
United top scorer Miguel Almiron is also absent after being ruled out for six weeks with a thigh injury sustained during training on Thursday. NewcastleWorld understands Allan Saint-Maximin is in Dubai but is not currently staying with the rest of the team.
Newcastle made the same trip exactly 12 months ago, where they trained at the “world-class” Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex, and played a friendly against local club Gulf United, who are managed by former Magpies defender Steven Taylor.
“It’s one of the best training arenas in the world,” said Howe. “First-class facilities, a world-class pitch and the facilities around the pitch are second to none.
“We took the boys in the altitude chamber which they really enjoyed – swimming pool, cryotherapy chambers – we utilised everything we could to help the players.
“It’s nice to expose the players to [the facilities]. When you want to really push the players hard physically, you need to have the highest level of recovery equipment to utilise, and we have that here.”
Once the international hiatus is over, Howe’s men have 12 matches left to play. Following back-to-back wins over Wolves and Forest, Champions League qualification is back on the cards as they sit just two points behind fourth-place Spurs with two games in hand.
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