NEW boys Gael Bigirimana and Romain Amalfitano have hit the ground running at Newcastle United.
The midfield pair could make their debuts in Friday’s pre-season friendly away to German side Chemnitzer.
Amalfitano, 22, officially joined the club on July 1 after leaving Reims as a free agent, while 18-year-old Bigirimana was signed from Coventry City last week in a deal worth up to £1million to the League One club.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew feels the duo can both have an impact this season.
They have already made an impression on assistant manager John Carver in pre-season training, which started in earnest late last week at the club’s Benton base.
“They’ve settled in really well,” Carver said. “Gael looks a great athlete, and both are good characters.
“They want to work hard. We’ll find out more about them over pre-season. From what I’ve seen of them, they’re very promising players.
“They’ve joined a top club, and they haven’t been overawed by it. That bodes well for the future.”
Amalfitano didn’t play a top-flight game in his native France, while Bigirimana only made his senior Coventry debut last season.
However, what they lack in experience, they made up in talent and enthusiasm, and if they impress over the coming weeks they could find themselves on the fringes of Pardew’s side going into the new campaign.
“They’ve been bought for the future, but they could come in and impress straight away,” added Carver.
“That can happen and there could be opportunities for them. Players can do that when you don’t expect it.”
Meanwhile, Braga have replaced Porto as one of Newcastle’s July 28 opponents in a tournament on the Algarve. Alan Pardew’s side will also take on Olympiakos 24 hours earlier at the Algarve Stadium, near Faro.
The Tynesiders are due to fly to Germany tomorrow ahead of the Chemnitzer game, which is still to be officially confirmed by the club.
H Alan Smith insists he had no qualms about dropping down two divisions to prolong his football career.
The ex-England cap, released by Newcastle this summer, yesterday signed a two-year deal with League One club MK Dons, for whom he made 18 appearances on loan in the second half of last season.
The 31-year-old midfielder said: “When I came here last year, I felt part of what the club were trying to achieve.
“I made it clear I wanted to stay. There were quite a few other clubs in higher divisions that were interested in me, but I think for me, in this stage of my career, I’ve come to the perfect place.
“What I hope for now is two years where I can commit to MK Dons, give everything that I’ve got and do everything in my power to help us win promotion to the Championship.”