Having recovered from a ruptured Achilles nearly eight months ago, United defender Steven Taylor is nearing a return to first team action. The centre-back was part of the Newcastle party which toured Germany and Austria last week, and in the latest instalment of his exclusive blog for nufc.co.uk, Taylor talks about training, heading abroad, and the immediate impact of the Magpies' new signings...
As you may have read last week on nufc.co.uk, I am now back training with the group and it is an amazing feeling.
I'd almost forgotten what training was like, it's been that long, and it's a different fitness to what I've been used to over the last couple of months.
You can run, you can train as much as you want, but when you get into the proper first team training sessions it's a completely different thing.
The gaffer is telling you one thing, you've got instructions coming from other players and the coaches too, it's 100mph and you only have a split second to react to things.
It's all about getting in that routine again, but I'm getting there slowly but surely and loving every single minute of it.
One thing I massively missed was the craic with the lads. You've got to realise, nearly eight months of staring at a wall in front of you when you're on a treadmill, and then outside on your own, drives you crazy.
To the physios here I've probably been like a nagging missus. I've just been on their case the whole time, saying 'when am I going to be back, when can I do this, when can I do that?'
They just kept telling me to shut up and get on with it and are probably glad I'm off their hands now!
But it is excitement now for me. I am getting closer to playing, I want to be playing again and I can't wait until I run out on that pitch. I'm not too far away from matches and am hoping to be involved on our tour of Portugal later this week.
But I'm a bit all over the shop at the moment, so the fans will have to be patient with me for my first couple of games! Forgive me for that, have a little laugh and then I'll be back to normal performance-wise very soon, I promise
We have been back from our tour of Germany and Austria a couple of days, and that was a really good trip away. We trained hard while we were out there but there were also plenty of other things to do and no-one got bored.
Getting the players and staff together for whitewater rafting was great and was something everyone loved.
We then had a team meal in the centre of Munich. You need things like that - it's team bonding which gets you out of the hotel, because there is nothing worse than being stuck in one for over a week.
It also gave us a chance to assess the new boys and I've been impressed with them so far.
Romain is a nippy little player, very tidy with good feet, and is a very clever footballer. He's always looking about to see what's on and you can tell he's got a good footballing brain.
And as for Bigi, he's just elastic and a real ball-winner. He's not frightened of a tackle, he's young but is playing like a man already.
At our team meal Bigi was asked to get up and do a dance for the rest of the players and staff as a bit of an initiation, and I've never seen anybody move like that.
The whole team just sat back and watched him dance. He must have had lessons.
Usher, move aside; Chris Brown, move aside - this kid is seriously good!
What a way to come into the first team squad, and set your stall out like that - to have the confidence to do that is amazing. We were all quizzing him about it after and all he would say is that it's a gift God has given him!
With Romain, he's quieter but still a good lad and I took him under my wing a bit in Germany.
I was teaching him a bit of English, and there's a few things I will stitch him up with!
But there's also a few things I think the Newcastle fans will like. I told him some things that if he says in interviews then the supporters will love him, so keep an eye out for them!
Seriously though, I'm trying to get across to him the Toon Army, the black and white and the importance of football up here.
He will love it though. He's not used to anything like this and it will be a massive thing for him to be playing in front of 52,000 fans this season.
They will both be great players and lads to have in and around the squad and it feels like they've been here forever already, which can only be a good thing.