Alan Pardew has confirmed he will field another strong team in Newcastle United’s next tour match against Wellington Phoenix – but defender Mike Williamson is playing catch-up as he battles for pre-season fitness.
Williamson has yet to kick a ball in pre-season and has been replaced by Steven Taylor in the heart of the back four alongside Fabricio Coloccini.
Taylor is pushing to start the season after a torrid campaign last time around. Williamson travelled to New Zealand but has not been used. He also missed the friendly defeat at Oldham Athletic.
Williamson has an unspecified injury but has been in good spirits, mixing with exiled Geordie fans on the streets of Dunedin on Wednesday before the team set off for Wellington.
Pardew fielded Siem de Jong, Emmanuel Riviere and Jack Colback in the 4-0 rout of Sydney FC.
And it will be a case of more of the same at the Westpac Stadium on Saturday.
Riviere went off with what looked like cramp against Sydney and was whisked down the tunnel by Mickey Holland for a massage, but the concern is not thought to be serious.
Pardew said ahead of Newcastle’s third friendly of the pre-season campaign: “It will be very much a similar set-up for us.
“We are looking to get the senior boys up to speed.
“They will get the bulk of the action.”
With Sylvain Marveaux moving to Guincamp on loan, Pardew is hoping to offload Gabriel Obertan and Hatem Ben Arfa before the start of the season. Neither are wanted at Newcastle by Pardew.
He doesn’t see eye to eye with the talented French playmaker Ben Arfa and has thrown the towel in on Obertan.
Former Manchester United winger Obertan was a player whom Pardew himself pushed the board to sign three years ago, but he now appears to have accepted that the winger is not up to standard at Newcastle.
Both Obertan and Ben Arfa were afforded a rare run-out this week as the reserves drew 4-4 with Queen of the South in a private friendly game.