NEWCASTLE United’s Cheik Tiote faces a gruelling trip to Moscow – just three days before the Premier League season kicks off.
The Ivory Coast have a friendly against Russia on August 15.
And influential midfielder Tiote is expected to be called up by his country, while Argentina have named United captain Fabricio Coloccini in their squad to face Germany in Frankfurt the same night.
Yohan Cabaye is likely also be called up by France for their fixture against Uruguay in Le Havre, as could Tim Krul by Holland for a friendly against Belgium in Brussels.
The potential absences of a clutch of his most important players so close to the new campaign is a headache for Newcastle manager Alan Pardew.
Should Tiote make a 3,400-mile round trip to Moscow, it will hardly be ideal preparation for the club’s season-opener against Tottenham Hotspur at St James’s Park on August 18.
And tough-tackling Tiote is a “perfectionist” on and off the pitch, according to Pardew.
The 26-year-old had to be told to “calm down” by Pardew – whose side travel to Krul’s former club Den Haag on Saturday – during the weekend’s Torneo Guadiana win over Braga in Portugal after becoming frustrated with himself.
“He wasn’t happy out there – he was upset,” Pardew told SportMail.
“Cheik made a couple of misplaced passes, and it upset him. He’s a perfectionist, and we had to calm him down.
“But he’ll be ready for the next game.”
Cabaye, Tiote’s midfield partner, returned to the Newcastle fold in the same game.
And Pardew’s confident the 26-year-old, a revelation in his first season at St James’s Park, is ready for the challenges ahead of him at home and abroad in the coming campaign.
Cabaye, given an extended break after his involvement in France’s Euro 2012 campaign, came off the bench at the Algarve Stadium.
“It’s important to see him back in a black and white shirt,” said Pardew.
“He is a big player. The 20 minutes he got will be good for him.”