Isaac Hayden discusses his return from injury, Newcastle’s St James’s Park struggles, dealing with pressure at the top and United’s eight game challenge

Isaac Hayden
Isaac Hayden

With eight games remaining Newcastle are within touching distance of the Championship title.

But midfielder Isaac Hayden says the second tier table-toppers must get their home form in order, if they want to be lifting the trophy on May 7.

Five of United’s remaining eight games are on Tyneside, starting with Wigan Athletic on Saturday.

And while many may see that as a blessing, for United, who have been far better on their travels this campaign, it could prove Rafa Benitez’s men’s poisoned chalice.

“We’ve found it a little bit difficult over the last couple of months,” he said of United’s home form.

“All season we haven’t been as good at home as we have been away which is obviously something we want to change for the last few games.

“But the main thing for us is just focusing on what we need to do, listening to the manager and staying calm and making sure that we go out on the pitch and perform like we know we can do.

“I think we just need to be on the front foot a little bit more, take the game to teams a little bit earlier, and the quicker we can get the goals, the quicker the games are over.”

Hayden has been missing for the last nine games with an ankle problem which required surgery.

But he hopes to be available for the visit of the Latics this weekend, having returned to full training with the rest of the first-team squad.

“The surgery went really well and the problem has been taken out, so I’ve been back in training for the last few days. I’d been playing with it for probably the two or three weeks before I actually stopped.

“It was just about getting through the games the best I could and it got to the stage where it was too uncomfortable to play with.
“I was disappointed to miss out on the big games that were coming up over that period but the most important thing is to make sure that I’m fully fit and that I can produce the kind of performances which will help the team and not hinder the team.”

The England Under-21 midfielder continued: “I’m not looking at second; I don’t think anyone is.

“We just want to make sure that we win the title. We’ve got enough good players, the right staff, a top manager; the platform’s there, we’re top of the league and it’s all to play for.

“As players we’ve got to be able to handle the pressure.”