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Who will test the Magpies this summer?

by Matt Newsum

Newcastle United will face some of Europe's hottest talents in their pre-season campaign, with matches against Hertha Berlin, Real Mallorca, PSV Eindhoven and Valencia on the agenda.

Closer to home Kevin Keegan's side also travel to Championship newcomers Doncaster Rovers and neighbours Hartlepool United.

But who will be the men to watch?

BBC Sport tips the players to look out for from each of the clubs in action.

MARKO PANTELIC - HERTHA BERLIN

Marko Pantelic
Pantelic scored 13 times last season

Serbian striker Marko Pantelic has been linked with a string of European clubs, following his 13-goal haul for Uefa Cup qualifiers Hertha in 2007/08.

At 29-years-old, he is no spring chicken, but the muscular, powerful forward is capable of upsetting defences with his presence.

He failed to settle in France and Spain as a youngster, but after refinding his form with home club FK Crvena Zvezda, earned a 200,000 move to the German side in July 2005.

Speculation surrounds the Serb with a move to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich, but coach Lucien Favre is confident Pantelic will remain in the capital next season.

DANIEL GUIZA - REAL MALLORCA

Daniel Guiza
Guiza was Europe's top scorer last season

Assuming he is still with the island club, striker Daniel Guiza is a player supporters will look forward to seeing in action.

He took La Liga by storm in 2007/08, notching 27 goals to snatch the 'Pichichi' crown as top goalscorer in Europe.

A goal in the Euro 2008 semi-final win over Russia capped his tournament, and the trail of suitors suggests Guiza will be in high demand during the summer.

Greek midfielder Angelos Basinas and Venezuelan international winger Juan Arango have impressed in supplying the ammunition, but Guiza's strike-rate is worth his inclusion.

EDISON MENDEZ - PSV EINDHOVEN

Edison Mendez
Mendez is an Ecuadorian international

Mendez is a national hero in his home country of Ecuador, and is hailed by supporters as one of the country's all time greats.

Since joining PSV back in 2006, Mendez has had his problems with the national team and with life in the Netherlands, but when in the side has been a key figure.

Quick, powerful and lethal from range, the creative attacking midfielder has scored some important goals for the Eindhoven side, notably in their Champions League campaigns of the last few seasons.

Having made the decision at the end of last season to stay with the Dutch champions, a settled Mendez will be a key asset for coach Huub Stevens.

DAVID VILLA - VALENCIA

David Villa
Villa has scored four goals in Euro 2008 for Spain

David Villa has remained a hidden gem for far too long, although those with an eye on the happenings in La Liga will be all too aware of this talented Spaniard.

Dynamic, dual-footed and capable of scoring from anywhere within the opposition penalty box, Villa has swiftly become on of Europe's most coveted stars - and is the top scorer in Euro 2008.

His ability was overshadowed by the poor season endured by Valencia in 2007/08, although he did rack up 22 goals in all competitions.

Should he remain at the Mestalla after his European Championship exploits, Villa will be a major crowd-puller when the Spanish side arrives on Tyneside in August.

RICHIE WELLENS - DONCASTER ROVERS

Ritchie Wellens
Wellens made the League One team of the year

As the unsung star of Doncaster's successful promotion season, Wellens' influence is clear to see at the heart of the midfield.

Alongside the gifted Welshman Brian Stock, Wellens' blend of bite in the tackle and subtlety on the ball have made him a fans' favourite at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Released by Manchester United just shy of his 20th birthday, Wellens rebuilt his career in the lower leagues.

First at Blackpool, and then Oldham, the combative yet skilful midfielder showed maturity and drive to re-establish himself, and promotion to the Championship will give him the ideal platform to display his talent.

JAMES BROWN - HARTLEPOOL

James Brown
Brown came to Pools from Cramlington

Versatile striker James Brown has shown clear development in the two and a half seasons he has been part of the Pools' first team.

Despite suffering a broken leg earlier in his career, and a series of niggles last season, Brown has established himself as a regular fixture in manager Danny Wilson's side.

Alongside the striking duo of veteran Richie Barker and Australian Joel Porter, Brown was instrumental in maintaining the Teessiders' place in League One in 2007/08.

With 12 goals to his name last season, the Cramlington-born 21-year-old is a player Pools' fans are backing to enjoy a bright future.


see also
Magpies face Hertha and Mallorca
25 Jun 08 |  Newcastle
Keegan to make his Rovers return
25 Jun 08 |  Doncaster


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