Siem de Jong is hoping to put his injury problems behind him – and be a leader on and off the pitch for Newcastle United.
Vice-captain De Jong, signed from Ajax last summer, missed much of his first campaign at St James’s Park through injury.
If something went wrong, I could say or have the space to change things in the game if I thought it was necessary.
But the forward – who suffered a thigh tear and a collapsed lung last season – is back in pre-season training with his team-mates ahead of Friday’s friendly against Gateshead at the International Stadium.
Steve McClaren said de Jong gave him “nightmares” during his time in charge of FC Twente in Holland.
And McClaren is looking forward to having de Jong available for the new Premier League campaign, though the 26-year-old must first prove his fitness under the guidance of new fitness coach Alessandro Schoenmaker, who has joined the club from Derby County.
De Jong was named as a vice-captain by former manager Alan Pardew.
And the Holland international is hoping to use his experience to assist McClaren and skipper Fabricio Coloccini on and off the field, having been captain at Ajax.
“At Ajax I was happy to be involved in the team,” said de Jong.
“If something went wrong, I could say or have the space to change things in the game if I thought it was necessary, make small changes or ask the trainer at half time, or he would ask me.
“That’s a thing you build up over the years that you play so it’s going to be a little different here at Newcastle, but I can still help people.”
McClaren has earmarked de Jong as a match-winner given his undoubted ability and vision, though he must first prove he can physically cope with the rigours of a Premier League campaign.