Isaac Hayden says he’s his own harshest critic at Newcastle United.
Hayden was left out of Rafa Benitez’s last starting XI so Jonjo Shelvey could be partnered with Mikel Merino in midfield for the first time this season.
The 22-year-old, pushing for a recall against Southampton at the St Mary’s Stadium on Sunday, had started the club’s first six Premier League games.
Hayden was critical of his own performance against Swansea City last month – even though Newcastle won at the Liberty Stadium.
“Bad day at the office on a personal level, but great 3 points from the lads and great following once again,” said Hayden on Twitter.
United manager Benitez felt the combative Hayden – who had been booked early in the game – was being too hard on himself.
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 If I’ve had a bad game, I feel I can say I’ve had a bad game.Isaac Hayden
But the England Under-21 international, signed from Arsenal last year, says he’s can’t help but be critical – as he sets himself high standards.
Asked about the tweet, Hayden said: “I’m realistic about these things, and I don’t think I was harsh on myself.
“I set myself high standards and I understand my game. I understand what I need to improve on.
“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 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.
“It’s something that I felt and I spoke to the manager about it – watched clips back – but it’s about becoming the best player you can be.”
Benitez recalled Shelvey – who had been sent off in the season-opening defeat to Tottenham Hotspur – to his team for Liverpool’s visit to St James’s Park early this month.
The midfielder had had to wait for an opportunity after returning from suspension because of the form of 21-year-old Merino, signed on a season-long loan from Borussia Dortmund, and Hayden, who didn’t play a league game for Arsenal.
And Hayden feels the competition at St James’s Park is a key factor behind in the ninth-placed club’s early-season form.
The Chelmsford-born player also believes the team will only get better as Benitez’s young players gain more Premier League experience.
“We’ve got a young group,” said Hayden, who made 33 league appearances during the club’s Championship-winning campaign.
“You’ve obviously got me and Mikel and Jonjo in there fighting for positions in the team.
“It improves us, obviously having Mo Diame who can play there too. It just keeps improving us. Every day we keep improving. We’re still young and we’re not the finished article by far.”
Hayden believes he and his team-mates can realise their potential under Benitez and his coaching staff.
“It would be a bit silly to waste our potential and the resources we’ve got with the manager and the coaches,” he said.
“The facilities are good. The stadium’s good. The training ground’s good.
“We have coaches and a manager who are willing to give us their time and effort, which is not necessarily something a lot of managers and coaching staff would be willing to give.
“If we can keep using that information and advice, then we’re always going to improve.”
Meanwhile, Massadio Haidara is closing in on a comeback from injury.
The defender, now in the final year of his St James’s Park contract, has hinted that he’s ready to return on social media.
Haidara posted a photograph on Instagram with the caption “back”.
The 24-year-old only made one pre-season appearance for Rafa Benitez’s side – Haidara started the first game against Heart of Midlothian – and was told to find a new club in the summer by Benitez.
A proposed summer move to Saint-Etienne broke down in late July.
Haidara, signed from Metz in January 2013, has recently been sidelined with an unspecified injury.
The former France Under-21 international could feature in Monday night’s Premier League 2 fixture against Southampton, which will also be played at the St Mary’s Stadium.
Benitez’s only other long-term injury concern is Paul Dummett, Haidara’s fellow left-back.
Dummett, expected back next month, suffered a hamstring injury against Tottenham in August.