USA trip can only be a good thing for Newcastle United
When Steve Howey laid into Newcastle United about their trip to the United States the one time Toon striker could not have been further off target.
Howey is fully entitled to his opinion as a player that has appeared in Major League Soccer for the New England Revs and during that time he will have experienced the cut and thrust of jetting around America.
Yet, while United's squad of 21 players have certainly endured the heat in the States so far with the thermometer almost at breaking point on 100F at times, being here has certainly handed Toon stars something to think about and it has been mainly positive.
Anybody who thinks this is a jolly for the Mags is wrong.
The atmosphere in the camp is far from a holiday feeling, with competition for places high.
It starts with the goalkeeping battle with Steve Harper, Tim Krul and Fraser Forster all scrapping for the number 1 spot and fans interested in seeing exactly who will don the gloves against Arsenal.
You then have the centre-half debate with Mike Williamson absent and Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor looking to cement their partnership from the end of last year and James Tavernier here to push on further to support his claims.
With Joey Barton and Yohan Cabaye in Holland, the midfield engine room showdown sees Dan Gosling push for his spot while Slyvain Marveaux also keen to impress and give Jonas Gutierrez - who seems to be giving everything and more in training - his marching orders to the bench in the wing stakes.
Hatem Ben Arfa is Hatem Ben Arfa and is no doubt an automatic choice, unless you think otherwise?
As for the strikers?
Well Leon Best is desperate to stay with the Mags and Shola Ameobi and Peter Lovenkrands have work to do if they are to get in the team ahead of Demba Ba.
So there is healthy competition out here for Alan Pardew and from that point of view the trip Stateside has been excellent as he looks to nail down the spine of his team.
Aside from that, Newcastle have been recieved well in the US.
Fans have travelled from far and wide to be here.
If you ever wondered if NUFC are a big club, then picture this...
Fans from Chicago, Memphis, New York, Winnipeg and Toronto have all made the incredible journey here - I mean one guy even had a "Leon Best is Mint" t-shirt!
Certainly a trip here only increases global appeal and if it is good enough for Man U and Real Madrid, then it won't do NUFC any harm in the long run.
US-based fans took in last night's training session at the Livestrong Park stadium which was followed by an autograph session.
They say friendlies don't mean a lot but victory in the States against Sporting Kansas City would sweeten what has already been a good tour for Newcastle.
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