The return of Isaac Hayden to training this week hasn’t hit many headlines but you shouldn’t underestimate how important he is to the first team. Hayden has been missing for nine games now and it is certainly not a coincidence that during this period, our league form has dipped dramatically.
Hayden is still young and he doesn’t have a huge amount of first team experience but he has a key role in the Newcastle United starting 11 – he goes about his business quietly but efficiently. Since his injury, Jack Colback has stepped in and whilst now is not the time to start turning on players or bringing any kind of negativity down on the side, Colback is not a patch on Isaac Hayden and our league form over the last 2 months has proved this conclusively.
When Colback plays the side immediately become more defensive – they have to as we have no one in midfield driving forward. Colback does not have a creative bone in his body and that’s not a slight on him – that’s his game, he is a no-nonsense central midfielder, a Jack of all trades if you pardon the pun. He is an average all-round player but Hayden has that little bit extra – in fact, he has a lot extra, Hayden is a very, very good footballer.
He is capable of playing simple football when needed, he is comfortable on the ball and he is good at going forward – he’s the perfect partner for Jonjo Shelvey, they compliment each other well, when one attacks, the other defends. Hayden’s injury has shown just how weak we are in midfield when either he or Shelvey are missing and we simply must strengthen this area next season as it has been a real Achilles heal – just think back to our form during the 5 games Shelvey was suspended for.
Whilst almost every single Newcastle United fan will hate the international break, the break this time has come along at about the right time. It has given Hayden time to resume training and while we are still a week away from our home game against Wigan on 1st April, it also gives the likes of Dwight Gayle time to return to 100% fitness.
Rafa has always said that April is the key month and who are we to argue with him? The final 8 game countdown is on and I can’t wait!