Midfielder Isaac Hayden says he will work hard to push for a Newcastle United return at home to Huddersfield Town next weekend.
Hayden played 90 minutes in Sunday’s 135-minute friendly draw against Royal Antwerp in Spain.
Hayden and those players not on international duty must now maintain their fitness ahead of Huddersfield’s visit to St James’s Park.
Reflecting on the 1-1 Antwerp draw, Hayden said: “The game wasn’t played at the highest of tempo, especially from their side, who I don’t think were really playing at a Premier League level.
“But it’s still minutes under your belt, and gives us another chance for more gametime going forward, which is what we wanted.
“We had four days of good weather to train in out in Spain, a good facility and a nice hotel, so we can’t have any complaints.
“Now back in England for the non-internationals, and we have some hard work ahead – particularly for those of us who haven’t played too much recently, because we don’t want our fitness levels to drop. We’ll work hard over the next week and get ready for another huge game against Huddersfield.”
The Antwerp game was split into three 45-minute periods. “It was nice,” said Hayden, who has found his opportunities limited by the form of Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diame in recent weeks.
“It was what it was supposed to be – three 45-minute periods during which everyone got a decent chunk of gametime from.
“Antwerp weren’t a bad side. In the first period, they weren’t at their best, but then they started to bring on their better players and became more competitive.
“It was sloppy from us not to win the game. The third period, with players coming on and off, probably affected us a little bit.
“It’s been difficult to get in the starting XI as the lads have been doing really well, so I can’t have any complaints, at the minute, that I haven’t been playing.
“It was just good to get more than 10 or 15 minutes, which is all I’ve been having over the last four or five weeks.”