Newcastle’s double Dutch trouble – but who is best for No 10 role?

Siem de Jong has been working his way back to fitness during pre-season
Siem de Jong has been working his way back to fitness during pre-season

A Dutch No 10 was the talk of the Toon after Newcastle United’s season-opener at St James’s Park.

But it wasn’t the Dutchman handed that squad number a year ago.

Georginio Wijnaldum

Georginio Wijnaldum

Instead, it was new signing Georginio Wijnaldum, fielded in the No 10 role behind Papiss Demba Cisse by head coach Steve McClaren.

Wijnaldum, signed last month from PSV Eindhoven in a £14.5million deal, scored a superb header at the Gallowgate end to endear himself to the faithful on his debut.

The 24-year-old hit the ground running in his United career – and ran himself into the ground.

Siem de Jong replaced an exhausted Wijnaldum late last Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Southampton at St James’s Park.

It’s a case of double Dutch when it comes to the No 10 role at the club this season.

And de Jong, having put the injury problems which blighted him last season behind him, is keen to finally show United fans why the club spent £6million on him last summer.

The 26-year-old had long spells out with a thigh tear and a collapsed lung – the second of his career – and returned to fitness late in the campaign as the club battled relegation under then-head coach John Carver.

De Jong, however, wasn’t physically able to play anything more than a bit-part role given the lingering after-effects of the collapsed lung he suffered in February on his eve of his comeback from a five-month spell on the sidelines.

Now, the Holland international – who showed glimpses of his vision last season – feels fitter and stronger.

He just needs games, though Wijnaldum – who will start against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium tomorrow – seemingly stands between him and the No 10 role he filled at Ajax, where he was captain.

“I feel strong – I just need to play games,” said de Jong.

“It’s been a long while since I’ve played games. It’s just getting games in.

“Of course, I’ve trained a lot, especially in the first half of last season when I had the injury.

“I came back stronger and got the other injury.

“That drained a lot of energy out of me – I lost a lot of weight.

“It was hard to recover, and I think I did well.

“Just before the end of the season I was getting stronger, but I just wasn’t strong enough to play the whole game.

“I didn’t think it was wise to play too much at the end of the season.

“It was important to get a new pre-season in. I’m getting stronger every day.”

De Jong is also stronger mentally for his first season on Tyneside, which started to unravel in September last year when he suffered a serious thigh tear in a training session.

“Mentally, it was a tough season as well,” said the Holland international.

“I’m glad that I’m back on the pitch training again and playing. The more you play and train, the stronger you get. Also, mentally it helps to be back with the team. That’s good.

“It’s a long season, and hopefully we can have a good start.”

McClaren knows de Jong well from his two spells in charge of Dutch club FC Twente.

De Jong is a very different player to Wijnaldum, despite their preference for the No10 role, though that doesn’t make him any less effective with the ball at his feet in and around the opposition box.

McClaren knows this to his cost.

“Siem was my nightmare when I worked in the Netherlands,” he said.

“The time he was at Ajax, he was, along with Christian Eriksen (now at Tottenham Hotspur), the best player in the Eredivisie.”

De Jong could yet give Premier League managers nightmares, and McClaren believes they can both be squeezed into the same starting XI.

“They’re two quality players,” said McClaren. “People are probably are wondering ‘can they play in the same team?’. Gini can play in any position around the midfield area.”

That would be double Dutch trouble.