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NEWCASTLE: PIF-owned Newcastle United will jet to Saudi Arabia for an impromptu warm weather training camp this month.

And it is understood the Magpies will meet chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan and other Saudi dignitaries as part of their trip.

United are understood to have arranged the visit to take place following the club’s Premier League trip to Leeds United, which is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 22.

The Magpies do not have another game until they face former manager Rafa Benitez and Everton on Feb. 8 — this is due to the fact they crashed out of the FA Cup against lower league Cambridge United last weekend.

The weekend of Jan. 29 is set aside for the fourth round of the competition.

As well as being a welcome PR exercise for the football club, which is 80% owned by the Public Investment Fund, it gives head coach Eddie Howe a welcome opportunity to embed new players into the squad in new surroundings and in warmer climes.

United are yet to officially confirm the trip to Riyadh, but are likely to do so with more than just England international Kieran Trippier and $34 million frontman Chris Wood on their books.

It is Arab News’ understanding that United are still on the hunt for four more players, with two central defenders, another striker and midfield reinforcements at the top of their wanted list. It is also understood the Arab owners are keen for the club to bring in a marquee name, although those kinds of deals may have to wait until Premier League safety is secured and the summer transfer window arrives.

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Meanwhile, Wood, United’s new No. 20, was unveiled to the public on Thursday. And the player made clear his intentions, having swapped one relegation-threatened side — Burnley — for another.

“You’ve got to go along with what your gut says and it was just one of those feelings. I think it is the right time in my career,” said the New Zealand international.

“I was very happy and comfortable at Burnley but nothing ever great happens in your comfort zone. I’m a firm believer in stepping out of your comfort zone to achieve greatness.

“I’m under no illusions that this is going to be a big challenge for me but it could potentially be great for me, and at the same time, great for the club. That’s how I knew it was the right time and decision to head this way.”

The Clarets ownership are understood to be angered by Wood’s decision to leave Turf Moor after a number of Premier League goal-laden years in the north west of England.

But for the player, there is no ill-feeling, despite the fact he will have to return to his former club on the final day of the top flight season, if fit.

Wood said: “For me, there is no bad blood there at all. I really enjoyed my four and a half years at Burnley.

“The highs we had playing in the Europa League and pushing for 10th in the league. Even when we were fighting relegation, the crowd was absolutely superb, they were always behind the lads and me as a striker. I have great memories from there.

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“It was a case of this being a massive opportunity, massive club and something I couldn’t turn down.”


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