Stoke City boss Michael O’Neill has been speaking about his plans for this week’s friendly matches against Premier League opposition.
The Potters edged past Blackpool on penalties in the first round of the Carabao Cup on Saturday in a fixture that was brought forward due to international call-ups.
O’Neill’s focus now turns his team’s 2020-21 Sky Bet Championship opener at Millwall on Saturday, September 12.
In preparation for that match, Stoke will take on Leeds at their Clayton Wood training ground tomorrow (Tuesday), before facing Newcastle at St James’ Park on Saturday (September 5).
With several players away on international duty, it will be a chance for O’Neill to give valuable minutes to other squad members.
“We will look at everything,” the former Northern Ireland manager told Stoke City+.
“We have to get minutes into the players. The likes of John Obi Mikel have trained very hard but need match minutes, Ryan Shawcross the same.
“Some of the players on the periphery and some of the younger ones need minutes too to push.
“It’s difficult because the numbers are high.”
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O’Neill added: “They’re very important friendlies and they’ll be tough.
“We’ll play a tough Leeds side and they’ll certainly challenge you and then away at Newcastle. Both Premier League teams so we’ll have to step up a good few gears from where we were against Blackpool.
“But that’s the challenge that we want and to get the maximum out of our squad we have to be tested and challenged.”