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DUBAI: Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe has revealed it wasn’t exactly work, not play during his time in the United Arab Emirates.
The Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex hosts the Premier League side until Friday, after Howe’s players touched down in Dubai last weekend.
And while Howe put his players through their paces in the Middle Eastern sun, he also took into account the busy schedule Newcastle have endured in recent weeks.
“It’s been going well,” he said of camp so far. “At the start, the goal was to give the players some downtime.”
“There was a really intense period of games, a lot of away games too, so we decided to give them some time off to relax and enjoy the sun for a few days,” Howe said. “And then go back to work and start our preparations for our next matches.”
“We are happy with how it went.”
Dubai’s world-famous resort was recently home to Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, while Manchester United and Celtic have used it in recent years, as well as sports stars such as the Olympic team gold medalist Briton Greg Rutherford and former tennis world No. 1 Novak Djokovic. .
Howe is no stranger to the resort, having previously visited the former Bournemouth club – and he reiterated exactly why he is a frequent traveler to the Gulf.
“We’ve used the facility a number of times in the past and for me it’s one of the best training arenas in the world,” he said.
“I think these are first class facilities.
“First and foremost a first class pitch, but the facilities around the pitch are second to none.
“The gymnasium, we took the boys to the altitude chamber today which they really enjoyed,” Howe said. “Swimming pool, hyperbaric chambers, cryotherapy chambers, we used everything we could to help the players physically.”
The coach said the players have enjoyed their stay so far.
“I think it’s good to expose players to that,” Howe said. “When you really want to push players physically you need to have the highest level of recovery equipment to use and I think we have that here.”
Meanwhile, one player who didn’t expect to travel to the Middle East this international break was Ryan Fraser.
In the fall, the in-form Newcastle winger was reported injured by Scotland boss Steve Clarke, then days later was pictured in training when new Magpies boss Howe arrived.
The incident drew widespread criticism from pundits and fans north of the border, and while many expected there was water under the bridge, the former Newcastle keeper , Clarke, left Fraser out of the squad to face Poland on Thursday.
Jumping to the player’s defence, Howe explained: “He’s very passionate about his country, he always has been. He loves his country and even when he was with the juniors he loved leaving and that hasn’t changed.
“He wants to do well in every aspect for his club and his country and I’m disappointed for him, of course, but I think Ryan is well placed because he’s here, he’s well placed and playing well.
“He had a slight tight hamstring before Chelsea so we didn’t want to risk that in this game, but I’m very, very happy with his recent performances and I know if he continues with the consistency of what he book, he will make his way into this team.
Howe revealed he had spoken with Clarke following Fraser’s refusal to recall – and he hopes it will only be a matter of time before the player returns to the Scottish setup.
“I spoke with Steve (Clarke) and I have a good relationship with him and I know how much he values Ryan so I’m sure this situation will come to a positive conclusion,” he said.
“The only thing I will say about that is that it will depend on Ryan’s performance, that will be the most important factor in whether things change.”