Christian Atsu accepts he faces a massive battle to hang on to a first-team spot at Newcastle United this season.

But it looks like he has won the first round against his rivals and will be in Rafa Benitez's line-up for the Premier League opener against Tottenham on Sunday.

The Ghana international virtually cemented his place when he was one of United's outstanding performers in their final warm-up game against Hellas Verona.

But Atsu, who scored in the 2-0 victory last Sunday, knows he cannot afford to let his standards dip.

"We have a big squad and a lot of competition," he said. "I need to work hard and, in the moments I am on the pitch, give my best.

"I am looking forward to any opportunity I am given."

Atsu, 25, faces fierce competition from summer signing Jacob Murphy and fit-again Rolando Aarons.

But his pre-season performances have strengthened Benitez's belief that he continues to improve and can handle the top flight.

"We know every game will be difficult," Atsu said. "Now we just need to keep our focus and prepare for every game.

"What we have ahead is bigger than what we achieved last season, so we need to keep improving.

"I feel fit and ready, but I want to keep getting better.

"We are facing more difficult matches so I am working hard to be a better player for this team."

Atsu scored only five times in 41 appearances last season when he hit the target twice in the final three games.

Now Benitez wants him to build on that momentum by improving his strike rate this season.

Callum Williams, a 20-year-old defender, is the latest Newcastle youngster to go out on loan. Williams will play for Gateshead until January.

Newcastle's annual open day will be held on Thursday, August 17 when fans will be given free admission into St James' Park to watch first team training.

It will run from 9am to 2pm, with the main training session starting at about 10.30am and lasting for more than hour.

A Fan Zone will be set-up outside the ground and will feature fairground ride, a penalty-kick challenge and a number of other football-related activities.