Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

De Jong Puts Hardest Year Behind Him; De Jong Nearing Peak Fitness after Hardest Year

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

De Jong Puts Hardest Year Behind Him; De Jong Nearing Peak Fitness after Hardest Year

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith @markismith50

SIEM de Jong is hopeful he can finally put his Newcastle United injury worries behind him, having scored on his return to the side.

The Dutchman made just two starts last season after joining from Ajax - calf, groin and lung problems restricting his involvement.

However, the 26-year-old (pictured right) played the full 90 minutes and scored a well-taken header in Tuesday's 4-1 Capital One Cup victory over Northampton, earning the Magpies a home date with Sheffield Wednesday in the third round.

De Jong said: "It is only my second 90 minutes for Newcastle in a year, even including pre-season. I need the games. I want to get in as many games as possible to try and get my rhythm back again and Northampton was a good start."

Asked if last year was the toughest of his career, he admitted: "Yeah. The year before with Ajax I had a few injuries but last year I only played three or four games. Before that I played 50 games a season so it was a really strange year.

"First of all it was disappointing for myself, then for the club, my teammates and the people watching. "It is a new club and you hope to start off well.

"You have to move on but especially after the second injury I had just got back and Turn to Page 44 FROM BACK PAGE felt really strong, and then it happened again. I was pretty down for the first couple of weeks but I had to get back and fit again. I thought after a while it would be for the next season, so I was glad to be fit in pre-season and fit now."

Nodding in from Florian Thauvin's first-half free kick , de Jong feels he is finally reaching full fitness as United prepare to welcome Arsenal on Saturday. "I have trained hard," he said. "Also, after training sessions I try to improve and get stronger.

"Against Northampton I got through 90 minutes pretty well. …

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