Salomon Rondon is desperate to make up for lost time – and fire Newcastle United up the Premier League.
The on-loan striker made his comeback from injury late last month.
And Rondon – who attended the Newcastle United Foundation’s 10 Year Anniversary Dinner this week – played 90 minutes against Watford last weekend as Newcastle, at the 11th time of asking, won a Premier League game and climbed out of the relegation zone.
Rafa Benitez had only planned on playing Rondon for 60 or 70 minutes.
But the 29-year-old, the club’s No 9, was forced to play the entire game after Benitez lost three players to injury.
“I felt tired after two months without playing 90 minutes,” said Rondon, who hopes to start against Bournemouth at St James’s Park this afternoon.
“It was difficult, but now I’m fit and ready to keep playing. That’s the decision of the gaffer.
“It’s good when you are coming back from injury to keep playing as frequently as possible.”
Rondon had been full of confidence when Newcastle took on Crystal Palace in September, having scored two goals for Venezuela during the international break.
However, Rondon was forced off with a thigh injury and had to sit out the defeats to Leicester City, Manchester United and Brighton and Hove Albion.
When I arrived here, on the first day, people saw me in the street and took photos and said ‘welcome to Newcastle, we hope you can score goals’. I’m very happy.Salomon Rondon
“It was difficult because I was in the national team, playing, scored two goals,” said Rondon, signed on a season-long loan from West Bromwich Albion.
“I came here with confidence, my fitness was high.
“But then when you stop for one month, one and a half months, it’s difficult to get the confidence and get match fit. But I’m looking forward. I’m happy for the win, and I just need to keep going.
“It’s difficult when you are in the stand watching the game and we’re losing or we draw.
“It’s frustrating, but I’m happy to be back. I will keep working all the week and try to play.
“It’s difficult when the team doesn’t win for 10 games. It’s difficult for me, with the injury. The confidence is low because we didn’t win. But last Saturday, we won the game.
“I just try to improve, keep working and try to do my best. I hope to score in the next game.”
Benitez was prepared to loan Dwight Gayle to West Brom in order to secure Rondon.
United’s manager felt that Rondon would offer his team something different and complement his other strikers.
“The first thing for the striker is to get in the team,” said Rondon. “We have to stick together and play together and make a strong team. I want to score goals. That is the reason the gaffer called me.”
Rondon was handed the No 9 jersey previously worn by Gayle after arriving at St James’s Park.
“The importance of the shirt is so high – Alan Shearer, Andy Cole,” said Rondon.
“Asprilla was here. He wasn’t a No 9, but he was a striker here. It’s amazing, it’s a good feeling. I try to do my best. I’m not saying I am going to do the same as them, but I try to score goals. That’s the reason I’m here.
“We have to play together. The strikers have to be there to score, but if it’s not the striker, the winger or the midfielder can score and it’s better for everyone.”
Rondon is now settled off the pitch with his young family. Asked about life on Tyneside, the Caracas-born player said: “It’s very good.
“I appreciate the first day when I arrived here. All the people were with me and told me to settle as quickly as possible. My family are settled here now, so I’m happy.
“When I arrived here, on the first day, people saw me in the street and took photos and said ‘welcome to Newcastle, we hope you can score goals’. I’m very happy.”
Meanwhile, Rondon attended the Newcastle United Foundation’s annual dinner on Tuesday night with manager Benitez and a number of his team-mates.
The event recognises the unsung heroes supported by the Foundation and raises money for initiatives in the North East.
“For me it’s a pleasure to be here,” said Rondon. “I know more about the Foundation of the club – I know how the people help each other.”