Yoshinori Muto is determined to put a “frustrating” few months behind him – by forcing his way into Rafa Benitez’s starting XI.
Muto made his first Prmeier League appearance since the New Year at the weekend, when he came off the bench in Newcastle United’s 2-2 draw against Bournemouth.
The forward, signed from Mainz last summer by Rafa Benitez, had only made a handful of Premier League starts before heading off for Japan’s Asian Cup campaign in January.
And Muto has had to be patient since returning to Tyneside.
The 26-year-old was relieved to finally get a chance at the Vitality Stadium, where Matt Ritchie claimed a point with a stunning 94th-minute equaliser.
“I’m very happy,” said Muto. “Finally, I could play on the pitch.
After the Asian Cup, I didn’t play in the games. I was very frustrated, but I have worked very hard in training.Yoshinori Muto
“But I didn’t score, so next game I want to score for the team. We have to keep working and we have to focus on the next game.”
Muto has been working hard in training over the past month to get an opportunity.
Asked if the long wait for a chance had been frustrating, he said: “Yeah, sure.
“After the Asian Cup, I didn’t play in the games. I was very frustrated, but I have worked very hard in training.
“Finally, I could play, but I’m not satisfied. I should keep working. I have to be positive and focus on the next game.”
Muto replaced January signing Miguel Almiron against Bournemouth.
On-loan winger Kenedy, meanwhile, didn’t make it on to the pitch at the Vitality Stadium, where Salomon Rondon was also on target.
Benitez spoke about Muto’s situation after the game, which left the club 13th in the Premier League and seven points above the relegation zone.
“Obviously, he (Muto) didn’t have too much time, but we have two or three players who are training so well, and it’s a pity that you cannot play them,” said Benitez.
“When he came on he, as always, was working really hard, was chasing players, was running into the spaces, so it’s what we were expecting from him.”
Benitez is looking for Muto – who is taking English lessons, to develop a better understanding with his team-mates.
“I think he’s getting better in terms of the understanding with his team-mates, because he is having English lessons, so he can communicate much better,” said United’s manager.
“Nobody every worries about his workrate and how dynamic he is during games and training sessions.
“It’s just for me to know that he knows about the other players around, and in this case Almiron came and is doing well, so Muto just has to carry on competing.”
Muto can play as an outright striker or off another player, like Rondon.
“I can play both – behind the striker and (as a striker), said Muto. “It doesn’t matter.”
On the competition for places at Newcastle, Muto added: “Almiron, Rondon – everybody has been playing well.
“It’s not easy to get my position again, but I have to keep working and focus on scoring.”