Newcastle United midfielder delivers Eddie Howe verdict despite Premier League squad omission
After undergoing surgery on a knee injury, Hayden finally made his long-awaited debut for Norwich City in their 2-1 defeat to Watford on October 15, over four months after joining the Canaries. It has been a frustrating few months on the sidelines for the 27-year-old, however, as he revealed to The Athletic, Hayden has no regrets about switching St James’s Park for Carrow Road.
Hayden said: “It didn’t end at Newcastle how I wanted it to. I was injured in March 2021, missed the rest of that season. Came back. Played three months, then missed the rest of that season; about five months.
“Then I came here and wanted to play straight away, and missed another three months. So I’ve not really had any sort of run of football for 18 months.
“I could have easily stayed at Newcastle and been a bit-part player, not played and sat there collecting my money. No one would have batted an eyelid. But I’m not that type of person.
“It’s been very challenging but I have got an amazing missus and an amazing girl. My family have been there to support me and that has been the saving light. They’ve helped me get through it and hopefully I’m out the other side now.”
As mentioned, Hayden’s six year stay at Newcastle was ended prematurely through injury, leading Eddie Howe to leave him out of his 25-man squad in January. Despite this omission, meaning Hayden was unable to play senior football even when he recovered from injury at the end of the season, he has nothing but good things to say about Howe and the impact he has had at the club, revealing he is still in contact with the Magpies head coach.
“The manager is really, really good there,” Hayden said. “He has called me probably every couple of weeks, just to see how I am and how I’m getting on. He talks about the lads back there and how they’re getting on too.
“A lot of people probably think I might not like the staff that came in because I didn’t play as much as I would’ve wished. But I have nothing but great things to say about him as a person. He’s a top-level coach; probably the best I’ve had in terms of man-management.”
Hayden’s move to Norwich signalled the end of his time at Newcastle, a six-year stay that had its ups and downs both on and off the field. His spell at St James’s Park could easily have ended in 2018 following his dismissal away at Cardiff City, but to his credit, the midfielder battled back from that disappointment to become a real fan-favourite.
Reflecting on his time at Newcastle, Hayden said: “I was there for six years and a lot of us grew up with that club, through the Championship and into the Premier League. It got to a point where they wanted to move on and the injuries for me probably came at the wrong time.”