NEWCASTLE United defender Mike Williamson feels the Magpies are ready for the challenges that lie in wait in the Europa League this season.
United fans must wait another three weeks to discover who they will play in their Europa League play-off fixtures, with the draw taking place in Nyon on August 10.
Until then Newcastle are not only getting themselves in shape, but also getting some players who aren’t used to continental competition into the zone for Europe.
The next game for Alan Pardew’s men will be against Fenerbahçe tomorrow night.
Reflecting on the games against Monaco and Chemnitz, Williamson told The Journal from the Magpies’ pre-season training camp: “It will give us experience of playing a different footballing philosophy, which the lads all benefit from.
“In terms of fitness it will be a great run-out. Technically teams keep the ball and have long spells of possession so it’s something we have to look at.”
Williamson’s career is nothing short of a fairytale after rising from the lower leagues with Torquay United to the splendour of European competition and some of the world’s top sides from La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga waiting around the corner.
Should the black and whites triumph in the play-off, it will earn them another six games in the group stages of the competition. Williamson added: “The lads realise it is going to be a big season. There will be a lot of games. They have all kept themselves in good condition in the summer. Generally everybody is ahead of themselves this time last year.”
Discussing the mood in the camp in Germany and Austria, Williamson – who was skipper in the opening game against Chemnitz – reflected: “It has been thoroughly enjoyable. It’s not often you can say that about pre-season.
“We’ve been building on it each week and trying to progress to get to the levels we were at last year.
“At the minute we’ve got games under our belts.”