Kevin Keegan has always said of professional footballers: 'skill can diversify but there is no excuse for lack of fitness'.

Which is why the Toon boss will put his players through a punishing pre-season in a bid to make Newcastle United the fittest team in the Premier League.

New fitness specialist Mark Hulse is looking at 'The Italian Way', and putting the players through two tough sessions a day in the build up to the first pre-season friendly away to Hartlepool United on July 19.

Hulse left Crystal Palace last season, having also worked with England's youth team.

New signin Jonas Gutierrez is missing out on "the fun", and will not join up with his United team-mates until later in the month, having been given a holiday following his involvement with the Argentina team last month.