Rafael Benitez has been impressed by the form of Isaac Hayden in training and he could be ready to hand the midfielder a first-team chance.
Former Arsenal youngster Hayden had been tipped to leave the Magpies during the summer, and, after failing to secure a move, he was sent-off on his first appearance of the season against Cardiff in August.
Hayden has only featured twice in the Premier League since that red card, but Benitez has been impressed by the way the 23-year-old has applied himself in training and he has hinted he could be ready to give him some regular minutes over the coming weeks.
“You could see against Cardiff, I’m not blaming him, but he was not focused,” Benitez was quoted as saying by the Daily Star. He was sent off because, for me, he was very excited and wanted to impress. “It was wrong but if he continues to train like he has the last couple of weeks he is fine.”
Benitez has also indicated that he wants to keep hold of Hayden when the January transfer window opens, although a lot could depend on how much first-team action he sees between now and then. “At the moment he wants to be here, I think, so we will see in the future, Benitez added. “He is here and he has to keep going.”