James Perch

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

Newcastle United's squad report back to Benton for pre-season training next week, with James Perch insisting most of the players are now relaxed and ready for what could be a mammoth campaign.

With Europa League football on the agenda and the club determined to enjoy another strong season in the Barclays Premier League as well as runs in the FA Cup and newly-named Capital One Cup, there could be plenty of games to come for Alan Pardew's men in the months to come. 

But that doesn't worry Perch, who is looking forward to meeting up with his team-mates at the Magpies' training ground for the first time since May.

Apart from Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa and Tim Krul, who have been given extra time off after taking part in the European Championships for their countries, the players will report back in groups - just as they did last year - before the whole squad assembles later on in the week.

And Perch told nufc.co.uk: "We're looking forward to next season - and the fact that we might have a lot more games than we did last season because of Europe.

"We'd like to have a good cup run next year and do better than we did last year, so we're looking at probably 50-plus games at the end of it.

"It'll be gruelling but we're looking forward to it, and the lads are just recharging now and getting themselves right for next season."

Last term saw the ex-Nottingham Forest man come into his own, as the versatile 26-year-old established himself as a key man under Pardew after a difficult first season on Tyneside.

And he played a big role in several positions as United finished fifth in the table to complete what was a superb campaign for the Magpies.

"When I came in, I like to think I did well," he admitted. "I managed to play a bit more than I did in the previous year so that was great and to be part of a successful team that did really well was a massive plus for me.

"I think the run that we went on at the end of the season - six wins on the bounce at a vital time - stood out, and our form at the beginning of the season, when we started so well.

"Beating Man United at home was special and so was Liverpool at home. That was a great game and it was a massive highlight of mine because I played.

"And all year long, I think everyone could see the team spirit that helped make it a great season."

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