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Hayden hoping to end season on a high

Written by Dan King

Isaac Hayden says Newcastle must treat the final four games of the season as a "mini-league" as they look to finish in the top half of the Premier League.

United currently sit tenth, three points ahead of 11th-placed AFC Bournemouth with a game in hand, having all but guaranteed their top flight status with four straight wins before Monday night's defeat at Everton.

And England under-21 international midfielder Hayden knows that a top-ten finish would be a fantastic achievement in their first season back in the big league after winning the Sky Bet Championship title last term.

He spoke to nufc.co.uk after receiving a commemorative ball from the Premier League to mark making his top flight debut this season.

Since the opening day of the campaign, when he started against Tottenham, he's made a further 24 league appearances and he admitted: "Obviously I would have liked more of them to be starts, but the team's been doing really well in 2018 so I've had to be quite patient, keep working hard and try to get as many opportunities as I can.

"But I've still played my part in some matches and hopefully I can add to those 25 appearances before the season's out.

"As a team player, you want the team to do well. Obviously it's detrimental to yourself on a personal level but on a team level, you can't really complain.

"So it's just about supporting the boys, working as hard as you can in training and pushing the lads who are starting to keep their good form up.

"And if you do get the opportunity to play - whether it be five minutes, ten minutes, you have to make sure that you help the team in the best way possible, which I've done so far - and long may that continue."

United entertain bottom club West Bromwich Albion on Saturday before travelling to Watford, facing Tottenham at Wembley and finishing off with a home against last season's champions, Chelsea.

And Hayden said: "There are four games left and then the season's done, and we can start afresh for next season and whatever that brings.

"And I'll be trying my best to get as many minutes as possible and to help get the team as high up the table as possible.

"Hopefully we can finish in the top ten. At the start of 2018 I think survival was the aim, but I think that you always have to change your aims and change your goals as things get reached.

"Obviously we've reached the target of staying up so it's about finishing as high as possible and getting as many points in the last four games, using it almost as a mini-league and seeing how may points we can get from the last four games and try our best to see where we finish."

Since the 2015/16 campaign, home-grown players have received a commemorative ball in a personalised, engraved case to mark making their Premier League debut. As well as Hayden, Jacob Murphy was also presented with a ball by former Chelsea, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest player Kenny Swain at Newcastle United's training centre on Wednesday.

"At the start of 2018 I think survival was the aim, but I think that you always have to change your aims and change your goals as things get reached."

Isaac Hayden

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