Isaac Hayden’s three-match ban did little to alter his persistence in Newcastle’s midfield. He came right back into the side and was his usual tenacious self as he tormented West Ham with his ball-winning skills and tough tackling.
Isaac was the perfect foil to Jonjo Shelvey’s adventurous display. He did the dirty work winning back the ball and putting in the challenges. Isaac even got in on the fun himself with a long ball over the West Ham defense that Allan Saint-Maximin obligingly sprinted onto.
Hayden had a run of 28 consecutive Premier League starts for Newcastle snapped by his suspension, but he looks set to start another stretch of games. While his time away from the pitch was frustrating, Isaac maintained a positive frame of mind and continued to work hard.
Speaking to NUFC TV on Tuesday evening, this is what Isaac had to say about his approach to the suspension:
“It was frustrating, but these things happen in football. They happen in life. You’re going to have ups and downs. You’re going to have bad periods, and you’re going to have good periods.
“It’s about staying in a happy medium. Realizing where you are. We’re lucky to play football and do it as a job.
“Obviously, I want to be playing every single week. It wasn’t possible for those three games.
“I just made sure I was in a fit enough position to be able to come back in the team whenever the manager picked me.
“Thankfully for me, it was the first game back and I just try to do my job like I always do.”
Steve Bruce had mentioned last week that Isaac would walk straight back into the team for West Ham. With Sean Longstaff being suspended, Bruce said suggested that it was an obvious decision.
Isaac was asked if his straight red card would change his approach at all. This is what the 24-year-old had to say about that:
“I think you could see on Saturday I’m still playing the same way that I played before. I think sometimes in some instances, I have to change my game slightly.
“I think football has changed a lot with VAR and a lot with the physicalities of the game. I learned from the tackle.
“I think, in my opinion, he (Dennis Praet) pulled out of the tackle, and I went in 100%. When you do that, there’s always going to be someone getting injured or the tackle looks worse than it was.
“I have to take it on the chin. I’ve learned from it. But as you could see on Saturday, I’m still my usual self.”
Isaac definitely didn’t seem to change his game in the slightest at West Ham this past Saturday. He was as combative as ever in midfield and will have done himself no harm for this week against Bournemouth.
We would expect to see both Isaac and Jonjo as the midfield pairing again at St James Park this Saturday. Hopefully, they can put in another top display, and Newcastle can win two consecutive games for the first time this season.