Isaac Hayden says he isn't afraid of competition at Newcastle United – as Rafa Benitez bids to strengthen his midfield.
Hayden, signed from Arsenal last summer, was an integral part of the club's Championship-winning team.
But the midfielder knows he will have to prove himself all over again at Premier League level.
The 21-year-old didn't play a league game for Arsenal.
And Hayden – who returned for pre-season training a week early – knows Benitez is looking to sign another defensive midfielder in this summer's transfer window.
But the England Under-21 international said: “I’ve always been in a situation where there’s pressure on playing for the club and pressure on winning and things like that.
"And the same for competition for places – I’m more than used to that.
“When you play for Arsenal and you’re a 19-year-old kid, you’ve got to be better than (Alexis) Sanchez, or (Santi) Cazorla, or (Jack) Wilshere or (Aaron) Ramsay, so I’m more than used to that.
“For me, it’s not about anybody else – it’s about myself, and as long as I do my best for the team in whatever capacity that is, improve and learn, then that’s all that I can ask for.
“I was confident when I first joined here.
"There was competition when I first came here, but I was confident that I was going to play and I’m no different now. I’ve got confidence in my own ability.
"I wouldn’t say I’m arrogant, but I know what I can bring to the table and I know what I can do. I think that given the opportunity, I should be fine in the Premier League.
“I’m going to be a bit patient – everything is going to be new, and there’s going to be competition for places.
"But I’m more than happy to compete, work hard, do the right things and earn my place, which is what I’ve done ever since I’ve been here.”
“I was looking at the fixtures the day they came out, and Spurs at home is a massive fixture to start off with,” Hayden told the club's official website.
"I’m sure everybody wants to get back in and will be looking forward to that one.
“But it’s the whole Premier League experience – it’s not just the one game, you’ve got 38 games against a lot of good teams, so it’s exciting times.
“It’s about everyone pulling in the right direction – the players that are already here, the players that will come – and everyone working together to make sure that the club goes in the right direction.
“It’s been a long break so far, and it’s probably been needed for a lot of the players, including myself.
"I feel really good now, and I feel ready and raring to go for the season ahead.
“I’m looking forward to pre-season. All the lads get back next Monday, and I just came back in a few days early just to get a few treatments and make sure I’m 100% ready.
"I feel really good, I’ve been doing my exercises, my gym work and my running, so I feel ready and raring to go.”
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