Siem de Jong and Cheick Tiote are facing a battle to be ready for next Sunday’s Premier League opener against Manchester City.
Neither played in Newcastle United’s final pre-season match against Real Sociedad at St James’ Park and their fitness must be a concern for manager Alan Pardew.
De Jong has not played a game since picking up a foot injury during the club’s visit to New Zealand last month.
A calf injury has meant Tiote has hardly been seen since returning to his club after been given more time off after the World Cup.
The midfielder didn’t kick a ball in Germany last weekend, de Jong didn’t even make the trip – and with the City game only six days away Pardew will hope at least one of his key players will be able to face the champions.
Losing both vice-captains would be a blow to the manager, who refused to speak to the press after yesterday’s match so could not offer an update on the players.
De Jong was brought in from Ajax to be the lynchpin of the team’s attack.
However, his last game was more than three weeks ago and even if he is declared fit ahead of next Sunday’s game there would be understandable concerns over his sharpness.
The same would go for Tiote, who would have hoped for a lot more game time before now.
The hope will be that yesterday’s absence was merely a precaution and Pardew will have a full squad for next weekend.
Newcastle have played good football during the summer and have a much better squad than this time last season in terms of numbers.
However, they are not so strong that losing two first-choice players would not have a detrimental effect on the side. Pardew still hopes to do more business this summer and spoke last week of using the last few hours of the transfer window.
The supporters would like to see another centre-half and a striker brought in before the end of this month.
However, a bonus for the manager has been the form of Rolando Aarons, who again showed up well in the win against Real Sociedad, which came courtesy of a late Moussa Sissoko goal.
New signing Remy Cabella enjoyed an encouraging first appearance at St James’ Park, while Jack Colback had his most encouraging performance since signing for the club.
Another fringe man who has made a case for himself over the past month or so has been Mehdi Abeid.
However, The Journal understands Panathinaikos, where he was on loan last season, are set to make a €300,000 bid for him.
The Greek Cup winners are hoping to persuade Newcastle to part with the 21-year-old midfielder for a cut-price fee plus a share of any future sale.
Abeid has been given a squad number by Pardew, who has been impressed with the Algerian’s attitude since returning from the summer break.