NEWCASTLE United’s Ayoze Perez says he’s energised ahead of the Wear-Tyne derby – after a well-earned breather.
Perez returned to the starting XI for Saturday’s game against Arsenal.
And the 21-year-old – who had been named on the bench for the club’s three previous games – caused problems for the visitors with his pace and movement.
Perez also came close to netting an equaliser for Newcastle, who had Arsenal on the back foot in the second half.
“Sometimes a player needs a bit of a rest,” Perez said.
“I think it’s good – I don’t have a problem (with the decision).
The decision of head coach John Carver to leave five-goal Perez out of his team had been questioned by supporters given his contribution in the first half of the season.
Carver cited data from training sessions to back up his call to leave Perez out.
He felt the demands of English football had started to take a toll on the forward, who was signed from Tenerife last summer as one for the future.
But Perez was pitched in early in the season by Alan Pardew, Carver’s predecessor, and he never looked back.
For his part, the Spain Under-21 international – who is likely to lead the line against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on April 5 – felt he needed a rest.
“Rest is good sometimes – I feel better,” said Perez.
“I feel fresh now, and it’s good for me. If he wants me to play, I’m ready.”
Olivier Giroud’s two first-half goals were scored from set-pieces, and Carver told some home truths at the break, according to Perez.
“The manager said the truth – we conceded two goals,” he said. “We can’t gift them that. He told us that we needed to improve and be strong, and we did.”
Stand-in captain Moussa Sissoko scored early in the second half, and United created a number of chances as they pressed for an equaliser.
“We must play all the games like that,” said Perez.
“We need to keep working and training hard for the derby.
“They have top players, but in the second half we were stronger. We had chances.
“We played better in the second half. I think we could have scored a goal and drawn the match. We had a good second half, and we now have a break before the derby.
“We’re a bit disappointed, as I think we could have drawn the match. We need to train now and prepare for the next match.”