Sammy Ameobi says his exile at Bolton Wanderers was the "best thing" to happen to him.
The forward returned to Newcastle United this month after a half-season loan at the Macron Stadium.
Rafa Benitez wasn't prepared to let Ameobi stay at the League One club for the rest of the campaign given the players he had lost to injuries and the African Cup of Nations.
And the 24-year-old, out of contract in the summer, made his first appearance for the club since May 2015 when he came off the bench against Rotherham United earlier this month.
Asked if he thought he had played his last game for Newcastle when he joined Bolton, Ameobi said: "Yes. I wasn't involved in pre-season. I was with the reserve team. I've gone away thinking there wouldn't be an opportunity to come back.
"The way things have turned out, I've gone away, done well and worked hard. It was probably the best thing to happen. I needed to humble myself and get back to working hard every day.
"I've been rewarded by being brought back, which I'm very thankful for."
Ameobi could be involved in tomorrow night's Championship home game against Queens Park Rangers.