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Five things we learned as Newcastle fell to a 1-0 defeat against Mainz in Austria 

Newcastle United were beaten 1-0 by Bundesliga side Mainz 05 during the final friendly of their pre-season tour of Austria.

Dutchman Delano Burgzorg scored the only goal just before the hour amid scorching temperatures at the Kufstein Arena, located at the foot of the Tirol Mountains.

Our North-East football correspondent, Craig Hope, was in attendance. Here, he brings you five talking points…

Newcastle fell to a 1-0 defeat to Bundesliga outfit Mainz in the sweltering Austrian heat

Newcastle fell to a 1-0 defeat to Bundesliga outfit Mainz in the sweltering Austrian heat

Starting XI clues?

It could well be that Howe’s thinking with regards his preferred starting XI is becoming apparent. There is a feeling he will trial likely partnerships during pre-season and, to that end, Sven Botman and Fabian Schar being paired at the heart of the defence is interesting. 

That would mean Dan Burn and captain Jamaal Lascelles potentially missing out on a start heading into the new season.

Elsewhere, a midfield three of Joelinton, Bruno Guimaraes and Sean Longstaff has looked decent enough in the two matches here, although Jonjo Shelvey has also impressed as part of another trio.

Eddie Howe might have given away some clues with his starting XI against Mainz in Austria

Eddie Howe might have given away some clues with his starting XI against Mainz in Austria

On the flanks, Matt Targett and Allan Saint-Maximin have been used together down the left, with Kieran Trippier and Miguel Almiron on the right. 

That would leave Callum Wilson as the likely starter in attack and Nick Pope in goal, although it is Martin Dubravka who has played behind Botman and Schar in both games.

Howe, though, says it would be wrong to read too much into his selections so far. We shall see.

Too Wood-en in attack…

This is not a criticism of Chris Wood alone, but Newcastle lacked imagination and movement in the final third during the opening hour before Howe changed his XI.

Wood complained to Almiron in the first half that he was not delivering the ball quick enough from the right, and the service on the whole was poor to the New Zealand frontman. He waited too long with the one half-chance he did get, allowing a defender to steal when presented with an opening 10 yards out.

Wilson replaced Wood on the hour and, with a little more movement across the front three, chances were fashioned. Wilson and Jacob Murphy, however, both failed to convert from close range when they should have done better.

Newcastle looked toothless in attack - the feeling that they need reinforcements in that area remains

Newcastle looked toothless in attack – the feeling that they need reinforcements in that area remains

Howe said: ‘It is the end of a long week, the lads have done a lot of training, and I was pleased with certain aspects.

‘Obviously, we need to improve around their goal. Our creativity wasn’t quite there. When you watch pre-season games back, you have to have a very critical eye, but also acknowledging where the lads are at. The most important thing is that we’re ready for the first game, not this game today.’

Still, though, you cannot escape the feeling that Newcastle need at least one – if not two – additional options in attack.

Post-match workouts…

It was interesting to see Saint-Maximin and Murphy sent back out for what was a pretty intensive workout in the late afternoon heat. The pair were put through a drill that combined shooting and sprinting and, come the end, Saint-Maximin had to be helped back to his feet by coach Graeme Jones. Finishing is certainly one area the team would do well to work on.

Allan Saint-Maximin (pictured) was sent out to do combined shooting and sprinting drills after the game

Allan Saint-Maximin (pictured) was sent out to do combined shooting and sprinting drills after the game

Anderson impresses, again…

One big decision facing Howe in the coming weeks is what to do with Elliot Anderson, the 19-year-old who has returned from a brilliant loan spell at Bristol Rovers.

The expectation is that the midfielder will head out on loan again this season, but on the evidence of his performances over two matches here, Howe could well be having a rethink.

The head coach said: ‘He did well again. I thought he showed an ability to turn in those tight areas, it was a congested pitch centrally.

Elliot Anderson once again impressed and it is a growing possibility he will remain at the club next season

Elliot Anderson once again impressed and it is a growing possibility he will remain at the club next season

‘I thought he did really well a couple of times without being able to force the last pass that we wanted. 

‘He’s in and around the group. He’s not looking out of place. In that company, that’s saying something.

‘Nothing is clear at this point (with regards his future). We’ll do what’s best for us and Elliot. When I say us, I mean the team and the club. If we feel he’ll play minutes, we’ll keep him. If he won’t play and contribute, we’ll loan him. He’s done very well to this point.’

Schar concern…

The Swiss centre-back was forced off with what looked like a hamstring injury just before the hour and, while it was most likely precautionary, he does have a history of muscle problems.

Howe is confident the issue is only cramp related but, were it to prove more serious, any absence would be cushioned by the presence of Burn and Lascelles. For now, Newcastle are not short of options at centre-backHowever, it would seem the right-footed Schar is being trialled as the likely partner of the left-footed Botman – a £32m summer buy – and Howe could do without such disruption as the campaign nears.

Fabian Schar limped off with a hamstring injury in the second half which will concern the club

Fabian Schar limped off with a hamstring injury in the second half which will concern the club


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