The international break has provided Rafael Benitez with a chance to take stock after a strong run of results, having picked up 10 of a possible 15 points across the last five fixtures.
Here are five key takeaways from Friday’s training session, courtesy of the Chronicle’s Lee Ryder.
Lascelles is back in full training
Forced off at half-time against Everton and absent against Bournemouth, Toon fans will be happy to hear that star defender Jamaal Lascelles was back in full training on Friday. The skipper’s reintroduction to the lineup is sure to inspire confidence in the rest of the players!
Ciaran Clark also back
The duo of Ciaran Clark and Ki Sung-yueng were also missing against the Cherries, but both appear to have returned to a good enough level of fitness to be included in Rafa’s training sessions.
Thomas Allan trains with senior squad
With players away on international duty, under-23 striker Thomas Allan was invited to train with the senior team with Benitez. A name to watch for the future, Allan may find himself increasingly worked into the first team picture at St James’ Park.
Ki Sung-yeung last appeared against Everton, and did not stand out as a major contributor in the 3-2 victory. Left out against Bournemouth, the midfielder was present in training as he seeks to recover his spot in the starting XI.
Rob Elliot is alive!
Veteran shot-stopper Rob Elliot was also back in training on Friday, returning earlier than expected from a back injury.