The common accusation thrown at Newcastle United throughout a frustrating summer transfer window was that they were trying to take on the Premier League with a Championship squad.
Yet, while the likes of Matt Ritchie, Jamaal Lascelles and Rob Elliot have stepped up to help The Magpies into the top half after nine games played, central midfielder Isaac Hayden still seems some way away from adapting to the top flight’s demands.
“I’m realistic about these things and I don’t think I was harsh on myself,” Hayden said after criticising his own performance on Twitter after the 1-0 win against Swansea last month, per The Chronicle.
“I just believe I’m an honest person and if I have a good game I feel I can say I’ve had a good game, and if I’ve had a bad game I feel I can say I’ve had a bad game. I’m not afraid to admit things or take things on the chin.”
Struggling to step up
Hayden had started all six of Newcastle’s opening Premier League games before being dropped to the bench when Liverpool came to town prior to the international break. Though, if the 22-year-old has dropped down the pecking order behind Jonjo Shelvey and Mikel Merino, who made his loan deal permanent on Friday, perhaps a short-term move away from Tyneside would help him rediscover his confidence.
Steve Bruce told Sky Sports that he was desperate to sign Hayden permanently from former club Arsenal during an impressive loan spell at Hull City in 2015/16, describing the midfielder as a "very good young player, who's progressing all the time. I desperately want to hang onto him”
If Newcastle believe Hayden would benefit from a loan, would Bruce consider a reunion at current club Aston Villa? The Midlanders are not short of midfielders on paper but, with Mile Jedinak struggling with injuries and Glenn Whelan yet to convince, the prospect of landing Hayden may be a tempting one.
Though his immediate future may depend on whether he can step up between now and January.