De Jong’s career at Newcastle has not progressed in the manner that many expected, and he has told the Chronicle that he has been telling Steve McClaren all season that he needs to be playing in the Premier League to improve.
De Jong said: “It [starting games] can only help in terms of making me sharper. 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’.”
De Jong started his league first game of the season on Sunday, playing as the number 10 against Liverpool.
He put in a solid performance for 68 minutes, showing McClaren that he is suited to Premier League football, after constant doubts about the Dutchman’s ability in the top flight.
Having spent the majority of last season injured, De Jong has started this campaign as nothing more than a back-up player. His appearance against the Reds was his eighth of the league campaign, but just his first start, and his other starts have come in League Cup ties against lower league opposition.
With how little he has played, there has always been the sense that De Jong would not continue to improve and get used to the Premier League if left on the sidelines, and the playmaker has admitted that he has been urging McClaren all season to give him more minutes.
McClaren caved at the weekend, and De Jong’s return coincided with a 2-0 win over Liverpool - although both goals were scored after he was taken off the field of play.
He is slowly getting his way back to full match fitness, and it would be good to see De Jong start to feature more and more in the Premier League as the season wears on.