Newcastle don’t return to Premier League action for another seven days meaning the friendly with Royal Antwerp in Murcia last weekend is the only time the United squad have played together since beating Southampton a fortnight ago.

With a three-week break to contend with following that victory over the Saints, the exhibition game with Antwerp could prove crucial for Rafa Benitez and his players ahead of the visit of Huddersfield to St James’ Park next week.

United drew 1-1 with the Belgian side in a match played over 135 minutes that were broken up into 45 minute intervals, with Matt Ritchie continuing his good scoring form with the opening on the 40 minute mark before Alexander Corryn beat teenage goalkeeper Nathan Harker in the final period of play to tie the scoreline.

Dwight Gayle also missed a penalty in the final few minutes of a game that afforded Benitez the opportunity to keep his players sharp ahead of the Huddersfield clash, blood a few youth team players and grant some essential playing time to the backup members of the squad.