Hay­den: Com­pe­ti­tion’s key to Mags’ form

Sunderland Echo - - Sport -

Mid­fielder Isaac Hay­den feels the com­pe­ti­tion at St James’s Park is a key fac­tor be­hind in ninth-placed New­cas­tle United’s early-sea­son Premier League form.

TheChelms­ford-born­player also be­lieves the team will only get bet­ter as Rafa Ben­itez’s young play­ers gain more Premier League ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We’ve got a young group,” said Hay­den, who made 33 league ap­pear­ances dur­ing the Mag­pies’ Cham­pi­onship­win­ning cam­paign last term.

“You’ve ob­vi­ously got me and Mikel (Merino) and Jonjo (Shelvey) in there fight­ing for po­si­tions in the team.

“It im­proves us, ob­vi­ously hav­ing Mo Di­ame who can play there too. It just keeps im­prov­ing us. Ev­ery day we keep im­prov­ing. We’re still young and we’re not the fin­ished ar­ti­cle by far.” Hay­den was left out of the start­ing line-up last time out, against Liver­pool, so Shelvey could be part­nered with Merino for the first time this sea­son. The 22-yearold, push­ing for a re­call against Southamp­ton at St Mary’s on Sun­day, was crit­i­cal of his own per­for­mance against Swansea last month – even though New­cas­tle won at the Lib­erty Sta­dium.

“I set my­self high stan­dards and I un­der­stand my game,” said Hay­den.

“I un­der­stand what I need to im­prove on.

“I’m not afraid to ad­mit things or take things on the chin.”

Mean­while, de­fender Mas­sa­dio Haidara is clos­ing in on a come­back from in­jury. The exFranceUn­der-21cap,inthe­last year of his con­tract, could play in Mon­day’s Premier League 2 fix­ture at Southamp­ton.

New­cas­tle’s Isaac Hay­den.

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