Isaac Hayden says he’ll be ready to tackle the Premier League – after taking a well-earned rest.
Hayden helped Newcastle United win promotion to the top flight.
The tough-tackling midfielder didn’t get a Premier League chance with Arsenal.
Hayden’s only two appearances for his former club came in the League Cup.
And Hayden, signed last summer by Rafa Benitez, is relishing the opportunity to finally show he can play at the highest level.
However, the England Under-21 international will first need to rest and recuperate following a bruising campaign in the Championship.
I know I have got improving to do in certain aspects of my game – I have spoken to the manager about that – but he’s got full confidence in me.Isaac Hayden
Asked about the Premier League, Hayden said: “That’s the pinnacle – that’s where everybody wants to play.
“All the best players in the world want to come to the Premier League and test themselves against the best players.
“I know I have got improving to do in certain aspects of my game – I have spoken to the manager about that – but he’s got full confidence in me.
“I have got full confidence in myself that come next season, especially in pre-season, my body will be 100% fit, ready and raring to go and improve.
“I should have no doubt that I’ll be able to hack it in the Premier League.”
Hayden – who helped loan club Hull City win promotion last season – underwent ankle surgery in the second half of the season and was forced off early in the final game of the season after taking a blow to the head.
And the 22-year-old said: “It’s been a long, hard season.
“I’ve had ankle injuries. I’ve been knocked here. I’ve been knocked there.
“But that’s just the nature of football, the nature of the way I play football.
“I always want to put myself about and make sure that I have an impact on the game.
“It will be good now to have a couple of weeks’ rest – resting the head, resting the body and then ready to go ahead for next season.”
Hayden and his team-mates will report back to United for the start of pre-season training on July 3.
“I can’t speak for everybody else, but I’ll have two weeks off and I’ll be dying to come back,” he said.
“That’s just the nature of football.
“I love playing, and I love improving and becoming a better player.
“The off-season ... I know it’s a rest and obviously you are there to rest, but it’s seven weeks.
“It gives you a good chance to work on your body and improve aspects that you might not have improved during the season because of so many games.
“It gives you chance to come back and be ready for the Premier League.”
Meanwhile, Newcastle’s Under-23 side are looking to win promotion tonight.
Peter Beardsley’s team face West Ham United in the Premier League 2 Division Two play-off final at St James’s Park (7pm kick-off).
Entry is free to season-ticket holders and members. Otherwise, admission to the East Stand is £3 for adults and £1 for concessions.
Defender Stuart Findlay said: “We’ve worked really hard to get here.
“But now it’s all about putting in a really solid 90 or 120 minutes on Tuesday and making the full season worthwhile.
“It’s all well and good getting to the final, but nobody wants to lose it at that stage.
“We know that if we go and we perform the way we can, we’re not to be scared of anybody and we can win the game and get into the top division next year.
“If any teams gets to a final, you deserve to be there. We didn’t start (the season) too well, but we’ve fought back and it just shows that were a real fighting team.
“Even when we’ve not been great sometimes, we’ve ground out the results and that’s what you need.
“The final’s going to be a hard game, but we know we’re as good as anybody.”