NEWCASTLE: Newcastle United’s US travel plans may well be in tatters but that hasn’t stopped them landing two high-profile home summer friendlies.
The Magpies have announced they will close off their summer preparation for the 2022-23 Premier League season with a St. James’ Park double-header on Friday, July 29 and Saturday, July 30.
First up Serie A and Champions League outfit Atalanta will take on Eddie Howe & Co. before Spanish side Athletic Bilbao will be on Tyneside less than 24 hours later.
The two matches, less than a day apart, are the final two games of what Howe hopes will be a very busy summer ahead of the big Premier League kick-off on the weekend of Saturday, Aug. 6.
A statement confirming the fixtures read: “Newcastle United have confirmed two home pre-season friendly fixtures ahead of the 2022/23 Premier League season.
“The Magpies will host a double-header against European opposition at St. James’ Park a week before the season gets under way, firstly taking on Italian club Atalanta on Friday 29th July (7:45pm) before welcoming Spanish side Athletic Bilbao on Saturday 30th July (time TBC).
“It is expected that head coach Eddie Howe will split his first team squad across the two fixtures.
“Both clubs finished eighth in their respective domestic leagues last season, with Atalanta also reaching the last eight of the UEFA Europa League after being eliminated from the Champions League during the group stage.
“Known formally as Athletic Club, Basque-based Bilbao also came close to cup success during the 2021-22 campaign but lost to Real Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana final after previously lifting the trophy last year.”
The fixture announcement comes after Newcastle’s pre-season plans had to be ripped up and rescheduled following the cancelation of their planned Ohio Cup involvement.
Tournament organizers pulled the plug on the fixtures, due to be played by Valencia, Villarreal, Wolverhampton Wanderers and United in Cincinnati and Columbus, due to concerns about Major League Soccer ticket sales in the area.
Howe and United’s backroom staff have been desperately trying to schedule another summer trip, but a journey to the US now appears off the table with Europe looking a more likely destination.
Meanwhile, Newcastle have confirmed their first summer signing with Republic of Ireland youth prospect Alex Murphy putting pen to paper.
Murphy, who turns 18 on June 25, joins the Magpies from Galway United and will take his place in Elliott Dickman’s under-23s side in July.
Murphy has captained Ireland’s under-18 side and was called up for the UEFA U19 European Championship Elite Phase qualifiers in March.
Steve Harper, Newcastle United’s Academy manager, said: “We are very pleased to have secured a deal to bring Alex to Newcastle United.
“He is a very promising young player who has attracted a lot of attention from clubs. It is a real coup for our academy and is testament to the direction the club is going in under our owners.
“I would like to thank everyone involved with Galway United for their assistance. The club has been a pleasure to deal with and I wish John Caulfield and his players the very best of luck for the rest of the season.”