Academy manager Eric Kinder confirmed this week at an early August start date has been targeted for a return to training within the EFL academy system.
“I’m in discussions with the EFL on a weekly basis and we’ve got another meeting this week,” he said. “We’re hoping it’ll be 3 August for having the players back in for training.
“That’s the date we’re looking at with the EFL as a group of academy managers. We’ll be able to do full contact training, but the only issue as we sit here now is testing. If we’re still in a position like the Premier League and the play-off teams have been where everyone needs tested twice a week, it won’t happen because of the cost.
“Hopefully a month further down the line we’ll be at the point where everyone needs their temperature checked before they enter the building. We’ll have to wait and see, but there are updates every week as things change.”
“We’re all obviously looking forward to getting back into it as soon as we can,” he added. “We’re in the middle of summer now and by this point we usually would have finished the league season, had six weeks off and been in the second week of pre-season training.
“As it is, we’re still four weeks away from a potential return date. I think everybody has had enough of all of this now, but we’ve got to be careful and make sure it’s safe for everyone when we do get back.”
And we couldn’t let him go without mentioning a ‘full circle’ move for keeper Mark Gillespie who, having left the Magpies as a youngster on his way to Brunton Park, returned to his boyhood club last week.
“Mark is such a likeable bloke and the journey he’s been on is incredible,” he said. “When he first came to us at the age of 16 he was a small, scrawny little kid and everybody doubted whether he’d been big enough or strong enough to be a goalkeeper.
“I think Simon Smith was our goalkeeper coach when I signed him and he’s now the goalkeeper coach at Newcastle, so he’s gone full circle.
“It’s not every day you grow up supporting a team where you get released as a 16-year-old, then you’re brought back to where it all started at 28. He’s joining an unbelievable club and if the takeover goes through they could end up being one of the biggest clubs in the country.”
“I’ve spoken to Mark and he’s absolutely delighted because he never thought this day would come,” he continued. “You can tell in his face and his voice that he’s so thrilled about going back. I have my doubts about the game time he’ll get, and I told him that.
“It worries me because he’s been a first team goalkeeper and he’s used to playing games, so it will be interesting to see how he handles it. I’m only worried about him because I like him. He’s been a first-choice goalkeeper for nearly 10 years, so I hope he goes there and enjoys his football, but I worry about where his game time will come.
“He’s a determined person and he thinks he’s going to be second choice, and I hope he is. One thing I know for a fact is he will work very hard.
“He made his debut for us away at Norwich which made him our youngest ever goalkeeper and I think he played over 150 games for us before moving on. That’s how I see the ‘right’ way to do it for a youth team player even though the market has changed now.
“I would have loved Jarrad to have played 100 league games for us before he moved on, but the big teams are looking for young players to develop themselves. Mark did it the way I would like all players to do it, he did his two years with us then moved to the first team, he made a truck load of appearances and moved on, and now he’s moved back to his home town club, which is absolutely brilliant for him.”
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