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Benitez optimistic Hayden will stay at Newcastle

19:18 GMT+4 14/11/2018
Isaac Hayden Newcastle 2018-19
The midfielder handed in a transfer request over the summer but the Magpies manager is insistent that he is happy at St James’ Park

Rafa Benitez is optimistic that Newcastle United midfielder Isaac Hayden wants to stay at St James' Park beyond the January transfer window.

Hayden handed in a transfer request over the summer as he wanted to move closer to his family who are based in Wales.

Newcastle boss Benitez was unwilling to sell Hayden and now he believes that he wants to stay at the club.

“I was speaking to him and he is fine," Benitez told the Newcastle Chronicle .

"At the moment he wants to be here, I think so, but we will see in the future. It doesn't matter, anyway, because he is here [until January at the very least] - and he has to keep going."

Hayden has only made three appearances for the Magpies so far this campaign but Benitez says the 23-year-old is in the right frame of mind to get more game time in the coming weeks.

"He is fine. At the start of the season it was all a bit confused. But he is OK," Benitez replied when asked about Hayden's lack of football so far this season.

Benitez also believes Hayden needs to maintain his focus after struggling to get back into the squad since serving a suspension for being sent off against Cardiff earlier in the season.

"He played against Cardiff and got sent off, which obviously I was not expecting," said Benitez. "After that, with Diame and Shelvey playing well, now Ki has the Premier League experience, too, so it has been difficult for him.

"Because of the balance of the bench, we have decisions to make all the time [about whether we have two midfielders among the substitutes], but he is fine.

"He was an important player for us [over the past two seasons] but, because at the beginning of the season everything was a little bit wrong, he needed to settle down.

"You could see against Cardiff - I'm not blaming him - but he was not focused, and I wasn't expecting it. He was sent off because, for me, he was very excited and wanted to impress."