Newcastle manager Steve Bruce has been speaking to NUFC TV ahead of the return to action in English football next week.
The Magpies host Sheffield United to begin with before Aston Villa come to town a few days later. The following week, Bruce’s side will face Manchester City in the FA Cup quarter-finals for a place at Wembley.
With a a lot of football to be played in a short space of time coming up, Bruce says he doesn’t expect it to be easy for the players.
“We are trying to replicate what it is going to be like [once start playing competitive matches],” said Bruce. “It’s not going to be easy.
“As we’ve seen in the Bundesliga, there is no real advantage of playing at home.Where our home record has been extremely good, so it will be important to keep that up.
“We have got a few home games early on. So it’s all to play for, let’s enjoy the challenge of what lies ahead.
“The most important thing is to get minutes under their belt and everybody came through OK, which is the main thing. At this stage we are just looking at fitness levels.
“It has not been easy because we are a bit unprecedented. You are not really interested in the result but they showed a little bit of spirit not to be beaten, which is always important.
In the friendly with Middlesbrough, both Yoshinori Muto and Joelinton managed to get a goal. Neither of the strikers have had the best time of it on Tyneside, but Bruce says he hopes their respective goals can help them kick on.
Bruce said: “I think he [Yoshinori Muto] has never really had a fair crack of the whip but he trains every day as though it’s his last, he has scored a goal [in the friendly win over Middlebrough] so lets hope that helps him, in the next six weeks or whatever we have got to finish off the season.
“A lot has been said of his [Joelinton’s] goal return, a young player, big price tag, number nine on his back, it was never going to be easy.
“The one thing he has got the ability to do is roll up his sleeves and have a go, nobody can fault him in that respect. Of course now he has to add what centre forwards do, score a goal, but we’ve been working on him to work more inside the box, play more inside the box.
“Thankfully he was again in the right position at the right time [to score in the friendly against Middlesbrough], because that is vitally important, and lets hope he can be in the second part of the season after reflecting on his first season in the Premier League…because I’m sure there is more to come.”