By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
The Newcastle United squad return for pre-season next week and midfielder Cheick Tiote is already looking forward to getting started.
Alan Pardew's players will begin reporting back to the Club's Benton training ground in three groups for testing from Wednesday, 3rd July ahead of the first pre-season friendly, away to Scottish Premier League runners-up Motherwell just under a fortnight later.
Having been on international duty with the Ivory Coast during the summer, Tiote - who celebrated his 27th birthday last week - will be one of five players given extra time off to fully recover from a long campaign at home and abroad.
But after the Magpies finished a disappointing 16th in the Barclays Premier League table in 2012/13, the former FC Twente ace is keen to start preparing for the new term and he is confident that United, who kick off away to Manchester City in August, will perform much better this time around.
"Last season was not the best for Newcastle," he told nufc.co.uk. "It was a hard season in the Europa League and the Premier League but we've had some time off to rest now.
"It was really difficult for all the team but when you see the season, the most important thing was just to stay in the Premer League.
"That's what we did and now we need to prepare and be ready for the next season.
"When we look at last season, we cannot imagine to have the same season as this next year so I think it will be better."
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