Fit-again Siem de Jong feels like a “new signing” for Newcastle United as he looks to put the “toughest year” of his career firmly behind him.
The injury-hit Dutchman has been struck down with several injuries since his £6million move from Ajax last season.
I feel like a new signing a little bit.Siem de Jong
But the 26-year-old - who started his first game in a year in the Capital One Cup win over Northampton Town - is determined to put his injury hell behind him and cement a place in Steve McClaren’s starting eleven.
A succession of injuries, including a collapsed lung, thigh and most recently a shin complaint, has seen de Jong endure a frustrating start to life on Tyneside.
And he admits it has been the hardest 12-months of his career, both physically and mentally.
“The year before with Ajax I had a few injuries, but last year I only played three or four games,” said de Jong.
“Before that I played 50 games a season.
“So it was a really strange year.
“You have to move on [mentally], but especially after the second one, I had just got back and felt really strong, and then it happened again.
“I was pretty down for the first couple of weeks but I had to get back and fit again.
“I thought after a while it would be for the next season so I was glad to be fit in pre-season and fit now.”
The Tynesiders have brought in five new signings, with Georginio Wijnaldum and Florian Thauvin adding an extra spark to the Newcastle attack.
De Jong admits he feels like a new boy himself, given the amount of games he missed last campaign.
“I feel like a new signing a little bit,” he admitted.
“Maybe not in the group - that’s why I stayed here last year when I was injured because I wanted to get to know the team and the club.
“Most of the year when I was injured I was here, but of course on the pitch I have not played at St James’s Park a lot yet so I hope to get some more games.”
The Dutch international, who skippered Ajax to Eredivisie titles and Champions League qualification, completed 90 minutes and scored in the 4-1 win over Northampton.
And he is looking forward to getting as much gametime as possible under the club’s new head coach - after the worst possible start to his Newcastle career.
“First of all, [the injuries] were disappointing for myself, then for the club, my team-mates and the people watching,” said de Jong.
“It is a new club and you hope to start off well.
“I think I started well in pre-season but then it ended almost straight after pre-season.
“It was difficult but I couldn’t really help.
“Most of all I was disappointed for myself.
“It has been a while since I have played 90 minutes so it was good for me [against Northampton].
“I need the games.
“I want to get in as many games as possible to try and get my rhythm back again, and Northampton was a good start.”