Rolando Aarons is ready to start afresh at Newcastle United – after putting his injury nightmare behind him.
Aarons scored two stunning goals – the first an overhead kick – in the club’s defeat to Portland Timbers in the early hours of yesterday morning.
The 19-year-old scored a similarly audacious pre-season goal against Schalke a year ago.
And Aarons went on to net in the Premier League and League Cup before succumbing to hamstring and thigh injuries that would restrict him to just six first-team appearances.
Now fully fit, the England Under-20 international is keen to forget his long spell on the sidelines as he prepares for the start of the new campaign.
And with talk of a new contract – he has just 12 months left on his deal – he knows pre-season is an important time for him.
I’m happy I contributed to all three goals, but I’m not really happy with my individual performance and the team’s as well.Rolando Aarons
Aarons said: “For me pre season is not about getting on the scoresheet, as much as getting back to my fitness, because when the season starts the performances are going to be the big thing.”
Georginio Wijnaldum put United in front against Portland at Providence Park from an Aarons cross, but the home side went on to score four unanswered goals against a makeshift defence.
Aarons sparked a late comeback in Oregon by flicking a Gael Bigirimana cross up before finishing with an overhead kick in the 75th minute.
Seconds later, he had the ball in the net again, this time thanks to a well-stuck left-footed shot.
“Most of the goals I do score are instinctive,” said Aarons.
“I don’t really think about them at the time. Obviously, I’ve seen it back now, and it looks like a decent goal, so I’m happy with it.”
Aarons, however, was still frustrated after the match, the club’s final USA tour game.
“I just felt we were off the pace,” said Aarons, who started the game in defence, with Steve McClaren having left six players out because of the artificial surface at Providence Park.
“I’m happy I contributed to all three goals, but I’m not really happy with my individual performance and the team’s as well.
“I’m sure when we go back to England we’ll work on a few things.”
McClaren, meanwhile, was also happy to see Wijnaldum on the scoresheet so early in his United career.
“It was good and typical Wijnaldum,” said McClaren. “He comes from nowhere and scores a goal in the box.
“He’s building up his fitness.He had a back injury only a couple of years ago, so we only wanted a little amount from him.
“We saw a glimpse of him and what he is.”