By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor
Alan Pardew believes Newcastle United's pre-season tour of New Zealand will help give his side the best preparations for the forthcoming 2014/15 campaign.
The Magpies landed in Dunedin on Sunday, and will train at the city's Forsyth Barr Stadium on Monday morning (local time) - their first session Down Under.
While warm-up games are all about getting minutes under the belt rather than results, Pardew also believes this trip can help a new-look United squad - which includes four summer signings - foster some real team spirit.
"On a personal level, I've never been to this continent before, so I'm really looking forward to embracing the culture and history as much as I can in our time out here," Pardew told nufc.co.uk.
"And, more importantly, it will be a good competition for us at this stage of pre-season.
"The climate and superb facilities will really benefit our preparations for what is going to be a very competitive English Premier League season.
"You always look to a pre-season tour to build a bit of spirit among the new group.
"We are delighted to be integrating some new players into the squad this summer, and it is important to spend time together, especially in a country as magnificent as New Zealand."
Newcastle face Sydney FC on Tuesday in Dunedin (7.30pm kick-off local time) before taking on Wellington Phoenix at the Westpac Stadium, in Wellington, on Saturday (4.30pm kick-off local time).
And Pardew believes both sides will offer a stern test of his team's credentials at this early point of the summer.
"The standard of the A-League is growing all the time and this is a continent which is really pushing on in the football world," he said.
"Sydney and Wellington will provide us with two very tough games, and that is something we will relish.
"Through these games, they will also be able to gauge themselves against us and get a good indication of where they are at compared to an English Premier League side.
"We are looking to change our style of play a little bit this year, and this trip will be a good process for its evolution.
"The most important thing to come out of the tour is to hopefully steer clear of injuries, get some team ethics in place and get some spirit among the group so that they will fight for each other when the time comes."