Siem de Jong’s pleaded with Steve McClaren to give him a run in his Newcastle United team, writes Miles Starforth.
The forward made his first Premier League start of the season at the weekend.
De Jong, handed a start up front, helped Newcastle beat Liverpool 2-0 at St James’s Park.
And the 26-year-old – who missed most of last season through injury – is desperate to keep his place for Sunday’s game against Tottenham Hotspur, having been making the case for a run in the team.
“I’ve waited a long time to get the start,” said de Jong.
“I’ve been training hard and doing everything I possibly could to try to get into the team.
I’ve been training hard and doing everything I possibly could to try to get into the team. I’m happy I got the start in the endSiem de Jong
“I’m happy I got the start in the end. I knew beforehand that I probably wasn’t going to play 90 minutes, because it’s been one-and-a-half years since I made my last start in the Premier League.
“I need to improve my own game as well. I think I worked hard off the ball at the weekend, but on the ball I need to improve as well.
“That’s something you can only really get through playing games, though.
“Hopefully I can get more games in the coming weeks and help the team as much as possible.”
De Jong had asked to play in Under-21 games so he could build up his match fitness, and he feels the 68 minutes he got against Liverpool have sharpened him up for the Tottenham match.
“It can only help in terms of making me sharper,” said the Holland international.
“I’ve spoken to the manager a lot of times this season and said ‘the only way I can really improve and get used to the Premier League is through playing’.
“I got that chance at the weekend and gave it a good go.
“I need to step it up and improve my game, and hopefully I’ll get the chance to do that.”
De Jong felt United’s win over Liverpool owed everything to the “spirit and fight” of McClaren’s side.
“It wasn’t our best game yet, but we had the spirit and the fight to make it through in the end,” he said.
“We couldn’t really keep up the pace in the last 20 minutes, but that’s because we’d worked so hard in the first half and up to then.
“We fought for every ball, and when we got chances, we finished them. You could say it was a slightly lucky win, but we fought really hard for it and I think we deserved it in the end.
“When you work that hard, you make your own luck.”
Meanwhile, striker Ivan Toney, 19, has had his loan at Barnsley extended until January 9.