Newcastle defender Grant Hanley comments on difficult season with Magpies following third league start

Newcastle United's Grant Hanley in action with Oxford United's Rob Hall

Grant Hanley has made just eight Championship appearances for Newcastle United this season.

Newcastle United's Grant Hanley celebrates scoring their sixth goalNewcastle United's Grant Hanley

Grant Hanley has told the Chronicle that it has been a difficult first season at Newcastle United for him, but insisted that he is not bitter about the experience so far.

Hanley joined the Magpies for £5.6 million in the summer hoping to play a key role in helping Rafa Benitez's secure promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt.

However, the goalless draw with Birmingham at the weekend saw Hanley make just his third start for the Magpies in the Championship, while just another five appearances have come from the bench.

And speaking after the rare outing, the former Blackburn man confirmed that things have not exactly gone to plan since moving to St James' Park.

“This season has been tough for me personally," he told the Chronicle.

Newcastle United's Grant Hanley in action with Oxford United's Rob HallNewcastle United's Grant Hanley in action with Oxford United's Rob Hall

“I have not played as much as I’d like to.

“I’m not alone in that, but what I would say about this, is the club here and the group of lads, we all go out and we pull in the same direction.

“There is no bitterness among the lads – we are all fighting together."

Newcastle United manager Rafael BenitezNewcastle United manager Rafael Benitez

What will give Hanley plenty of confidence is that Newcastle kept a clean sheet against the Blues, who are more than capable of causing opposition teams problems.

And he may be hoping that that display was good enough to keep him in the manager's thoughts over the international break ahead of a massive few weeks for the club as they seek to capitalise on their current position - they are top of the table, seven points clear of third place Huddersfield - by securing automatic promotion.

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