By Matt Farr
Isaac Hayden has admitted a devastating injury setback ended his hopes of establishing a successful career at Arsenal.
The 21-year-old has been a shining light for Newcastle this season, but he thinks he could have had a big role to play at the Emirates if it wasn’t for one injury.
Hayden rose through the ranks at Arsenal, making his first-team debut for the club in a League Cup clash with West Brom in September 2013, but he went on to make just one further appearance for Arsene Wenger’s side.
The young midfielder was believed to be in line to start for the Gunners against Hull in the Premier League in December 2013, but was swiftly ruled out following a training ground injury.
Hayden suffered ankle ligament damage whilst on the receiving end of a rash challenge from team-mate Mathieu Flamini, and took a long time to recover – longer than Arsene Wenger was prepared to wait.
In a bid to regain fitness, Wenger let him join Hull on loan for the 2015-16 campaign, but the Frenchman took a liking to several other players in that time, including Francis Coquelin.
At that point, Hayden knew that his Arsenal career was over, and he was sold to Newcastle last summer.
Speaking to the Shields Gazette, he said: “There was a time when I could have broken into the first-team. But just at that moment I got injured and was out for eight months. When I came back, Coquelin had broken in and was doing really well.
“It was very hard to take. I was trying everything, taking painkillers. But my leg was literally hanging off. It was a massive moment in my career and took a while to get over.
“It was an unfortunate tackle with Flamini. It was an awkward challenge, nothing malicious. Just a clash. From there I didn’t play again.”
The England Under-21 international has been reinvigorated since his move to Newcastle, and is excelling under the leadership and guidance of Rafa Benitez.
He has made 29 appearances in all competitions for the Championship leaders this season, scoring one goal and contributing three assists.
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