Summer plans offer KK's side a stern test
You can never get carried with friendlies but for Newcastle United fans they'll certainly be able to make an accurate measurement of where their side are at after the pre-season programme, which was announced today, is completed next month.
The now almost annual trip to Hartlepool will revive fond memories for Kevin Keegan with Victoria Park (or Victoria Ground as it was then) the scene of Peter Beardsley's second coming with the Toon in 1993.
KK then makes an emotional return to Doncaster for a game at the still sparkling Keepmoat Stadium for game two before the big boys enter the fray.
For it will be at the Son Moix stadium in Mallorca that the Toon Army will perhaps get a clear indication of what lies ahead for the season.
You're on a hiding to nothing when it comes to friendly games, look at last season an Alan Smith goal against Sampdoria and a 1-0 win didn't give us a true picture of what lay ahead.
But in 2006 when United were 3-0 down to PSV Eindhoven (before losing 3-2) and 3-1 down to Villarreal (drew 3-3), United's defensive woes suggested that a long winter lay ahead for Glenn Roeder and of course it did.
This time around fixtures with Bundesliga outfit Hertha Berlin and La Liga boys Real Mallorca will take place on the sunny party island before a testing affair with Valencia who should arrive with David Villa on board.
It's certainly a balanced fixture list but one that KK has carefully selected and one that will give both fringe players and key first team members a chance to show exactly what they can or can't do.
New faces may be on board by then for Newcastle but Toon fans will either be encouraged or for some they'll have further doubts just where the Magpies will finish the up and comin 2008/09 season.
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