Harvey Barnes admits he needs to shake off the rust as he prepares to battle for his place in the Newcastle United first-team. The 25-year-old made his eagerly-anticipated debut for the Magpies just hours after landing in the United States to join up with his new team-mates.
Barnes featured for the final 20 minutes of Sunday’s frenetic 3-3 draw with Aston Villa in Philadelphia, almost snatching a winner for Newcastle by forcing goalkeeper Robin Olsen into a decent save. The winger is yet to train with his new co-stars and was left out of Leicester City’s recent pre-season friendlies by Foxes boss Enzo Maresca as his transfer edged closer.
Barnes admits he needs to step up his fitness work in the coming weeks but is expected to receive more minutes against Chelsea and Brighton later this week. “It was good [to play],” he said via Sky Sports. “I haven’t trained with the team and I haven’t done too many sessions recently either.
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“So let’s get the legs going [against Aston Villa], a little bit rusty but over the next couple days I’m sure I’ll get that sharpness back and look forward to the next couple of games. It’s great. I’ve been anticipating it the last couple of days so to finally be here and meet up with the lads was very [good].”
Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe has tried a whole host of players on the left of Newcastle’s attack in the opening three pre-season games but still wanted to throw Barnes in the mix despite agreeing with the player’s fitness assessment. The Toon chief heaped praise on his new signing’s cameo appearance, admitting he saw real promise in the opening 20 minutes.
“We made a late decision to involve him tonight,” said the United head coach. “We weren’t sure as he only arrived here yesterday – it was a long flight for him.
“But ultimately, we thought it was best to get his debut in early. He hasn’t trained with the players yet but a debut of real promise, I thought.”