After narrowly surviving relegation last season, the former Derby County manager has made four signings over the summer so far.
The highly-rated Georginio Wijnaldum joined from PSV for £14.5m while Chancel Mbemba and Aleksandar Mitrovic signed from Anderlecht. Big things are expected from Mitrovic after the 20-year-old scored 27 times in 49 appearances for the Belgian club over two seasons.
Southampton will be looking to build on another successful season in the Premier League as numerous squad changes have been made once again, with eight departures and eight arrivals.
Jordy Clasie and Steven Caulker are perhaps the most notable, while Nathaniel’s Clyne’s replacement Cedric Soares has impressed during pre-season.
McClaren is weighing up whether to hand starting roles to new boys Mitrovic and Mbemba while Wijnaldum is likely to feature.
Mitrovic and Mbemba are still settling into life on Tyneside and may have to make do with a place on the bench, while captain Fabricio Coloccini is also a major doubt after missing most of pre-season with an Achilles problem.
McClaren has a number of players struggling to recover from injury, with the likes of Cheick Tiote, Emmanuel Riviere and Paul Dummett all unlikely to feature.
Clasie and Shane Long will be assessed before Southampton’s Premier League opener at Newcastle. The pair missed Thursday’s 2-0 Europa League win at Vitesse Arnhem due to a hamstring injury and illness respectively, so will be evaluated upon the team’s return to the south coast.
Saints manager Ronald Koeman may also miss the match as a ruptured Achilles likely requires an operation, while Ryan Bertrand, Gaston Ramirez, Florin Gardos and Fraser Forster are absent.
Newcastle have failed to score in four of their last five opening weekend Premier League fixtures.
Southampton have been drawn away from home in each of their last six season openers in the Premier League, winning just one of the previous five (D1 L3).
Southampton have won their last three league games against Newcastle, scoring 10 and conceding just one.
McClaren has only won one of his last seven Premier League games (D2 L4) while his Derby side won just two of their last 13 Championship games last season (D6 L5).
Southampton were outstanding last year and they punched well above their weight. The hard work starts now, though, because they have to do it again and it’s a lot easier to do well when no one is expecting you to, when you’re expected to do well pressure can affect a team.
McClaren looks to have freshened things up at Newcastle with the signings he has brought in and I like him, he’s a good coach, especially with youngsters. The fans at St James’ Park will be up for the new season and I see both sides evenly matched.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1 (9/2 with Sky Bet)
Sky Bet make Southampton 6/4 favourites to topple Newcastle (15/8) in their season’s opener with the draw available at 9/4. Newcastle narrowly avoided the drop last season and despite the arrival of former England boss Steve McClaren are 11/2 to be relegated while the Saints are 5/2 to finish in the top six. Koeman’s side won 2-1 at St James’ Park last season and Sky Bet offer 17/2 for a repeat of that scoreline, while Sky Sports football pundit Jamie Redknapp is tipping a 1-1 draw at 9/2.