Siem de Jong’s looking to wipe out the memory of his nightmare first season at Newcastle United – and finally show the club’s fans what he can do.
The forward joined from Ajax a year ago in a £6million deal.
It’s going to be a really important season for meSiem de Jong
But de Jong spent most of the campaign on the sidelines after suffering a torn thigh muscle and collapsed lung.
And the 26-year-old – who played 73 minutes of Tuesday night’s 2-1 defeat to Club Atlas in Milwaukee – is desperate to make up for lost time.
De Jong is keen to repay the club’s supporters, who quickly took to him after his move from Holland.
“It’s going to be a really important season for me,” said de Jong.
“The key thing is to stay fit, and I’ll be doing all I can to play as much as I can.
“I want to play a lot of games this season and forget last season. It was a tough season for me personally, and also the team. I hope I can help the team a little bit more this season.”
De Jong caught the eye last pre-season before succumbing to injury, and he could only watch in frustration in the latter months of the campaign as his team-mates fought to stay in the Premier League.
“I started off pretty good in pre-season, and got injured straight away,” he said.
“The fans expect a lot when you come to a new club.
“I was frustrated, not only for myself but for my team-mates, the fans and the club.
“I hope for a different season this year.”
De Jong is enjoying working under new head coach Steve McClaren and his staff.
“I’m feeling good,” he said. “I need games. I played a couple at the end, and also with the Under-21s, but I needed a new pre-season, and that’s what I’m getting now.
“I had a good 70 minutes (against Club Atlas). The training sessions are hard and good.
“I’m improving. I’ll look to get 90 minutes in in the next couple of weeks.”
Club Atlas took a 2-0 lead at Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers.
But United’s Moussa Sissoko pulled a goal back before the break, and McClaren’s side went on to dominate a keenly-contested second half after standing up to their tough opponents.
“I think it was a good challenge for us,” said de Jong. “It was a difficult game, but you need that in pre-season.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t win. In the second half, we could have equalised, but we didn’t.
“It was a good game and a good continuation of pre-season.
“First half we started we until the penalty, and they were getting a little on top. We had a difficult period.
“Just before half time was a good moment to score, and we came out a little better.”
A crowd of 21,256, including hundreds of Newcastle fans, watched the match, which was played on the same night as Major League Baseball’s All-Star game.
“It was a nice stadium, and there were a lot of fans,” said de Jong. “It was good to see so many people watching the game.
“It makes it nicer for us and makes the game more special.”