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Gareth on early Toon test

Gareth Bale described next season's Premier League opener at Newcastle as 'a good early test'.

The 2012-13 fixtures were announced earlier this week and served up a trip to the Sports Direct Arena on Saturday, August 18 – subject to change.

Newcastle impressed all with their fifth-placed finish last term, fighting for a place in the top four until the final weekend of the season.

Goals from Rafa van der Vaart and Jermain Defoe earned a 2-2 draw on Tyneside last October.

“It will be difficult, especially away from home, but it’s a good early test for us,” said Gareth. “It’s important to get off to a good start.

“Newcastle had a fine season. No-one really expected them to be right up there and maintain it throughout the season.

“They’ve some great players and it will be a case of keeping those players quiet and trying to impose our game plan.”

Gareth felt team spirit was Newcastle’s greatest asset last season. “They all worked hard, they worked together and that counts a lot in football,” he added.