Isaac Hayden may have been on the losing side as Newcastle United fell to a penalty-shootout defeat to Hull City in the EFL Cup quarter final, but the midfielder has told The Chronicle that he managed to prove a point to his old employers.
The former Arsenal youngster spent last season on loan at the KCom Stadium, making just nine Championship starts as he struggled for opportunities on Humberside, being kept out of the team by his current team-mate and midfield partner Mo Diame.
In stark contrast, Hayden has already started more games in the second tier under Rafael Benitez at Newcastle than he managed in the entirety of the 2015/16 captain, his form alongside Jonjo Shelvey ironically restricting Diame to a substitute role on occasions.
And the 23-year-old says he had a personal point to prove as he squared up to his former side in the midweek cup clash alongside last season’s play-off final matchwinner Diame.
“It’s our former club and obviously we want to show people what we can do, especially me because I was here on loan and maybe didn’t play as much as I could have done so it was almost a point to prove to myself,” Hayden told The Chronicle after the game, which Hull won on penalties after Robert Snodgrass immediately cancelled out Diame’s opener in extra-time.
“I was trying to prove myself against the lads who were playing ahead of me last season.
“It’s always good for me to come here, try to show what I can do, I gave it 100 per cent and I left it out on the pitch.
“I don’t think I could have run around any more, or try any more - I gave everything but it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Regardless of the result, Hayden once again proved why Benitez, a manager who has worked with some of the best midfielders the world has to offer, from Steven Gerrard to Toni Kroos, rates him so highly.