Rafa Benitez outlines what he wants from Massadio Haidara at Newcastle

Massadio Haidara's looking to help Newcastle United back into the Premier League '“ after putting his injury problems behind him.

Tuesday, 31st January 2017, 5:00 am
Massadio Haidara

Haidara played in Saturday’s FA Cup defeat to Oxford United.

The 24-year-old left the field at the Kassam Stadium bitterly disappointed at the 3-0 loss.

Haidara – who didn’t play a first-team game last year because of injury – is hoping to put that experience behind him by playing a part in the club’s Championship campaign.

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“I am feeling good in myself, but I’m disappointed in the result,” said Haidara, signed from Nancy four years ago.

“In myself I am happy with my progress and fitness, though. I can complete 90 minutes, I am here and I keep training and enjoying it. If the manager needs me, I am here.”

Rafa Benitez has spoken to Haidara, competing with Paul Dummett and Achraf Lazaar for a place at left-back, about his role at Newcastle.

“We have some chats regularly, and he tells me what he wants from me,” said Haidara. “I’ve told him what I want too, and we’ll see what happens in the next few weeks.”

United manager Benitez fielded Haidara as a centre-half in the club’s FA Cup ties against Oxford and Birmingham City this season.

“I never played centre-back until against Birmingham, that was the first time and then Oxford the second,” said the France Under-21 international.

“I tried to do my best. It’s a new position but I did quite like it.”

Haidara and his team-mates had a forgettable afternoon at the Kassam Stadium, where Newcastle were well beaten in the fourth-round tie by Oxford.

The League One club’s goals all came from set-pieces.

“Of course we are all disappointed, because we had the chance to win the game, but we missed some good chances,” said Haidara. “We also conceded three goals from set-pieces, which is obviously disappointing.”

“It’s something we should manage better and we didn’t. It was not good to concede and lose in this way.”

Benitez – who rested a number of players for the game – changed his system for the tie.

“It was not about the system, because we worked on that in training and we played the same formation against Birmingham in the cup,” said Haidara.

“We just missed some chances and Oxford took their chances. If you score first then you have a great chance to win the game.”

Second-placed Newcastle take on Queens Park Rangers at St James’s Park in the Championship tomorrow night.

“The target is promotion – it always has been,” said Haidara. “If we could have done something in the cup, it would have been good for us.

“So we are a disappointed that we are out of the cup, but now we must focus on the league and going up.

“To the fans, we are sorry, but it’s about winning the league now.”