McClaren backs De Jong to shine
Newcastle head coach Steve McClaren is confident Siem de Jong will be a big hit in the Barclays Premier League despite injury wrecking his first year in England.
The 26-year-old Holland international midfielder managed only five senior appearances and just two starts for the club last season following his £6million switch from Ajax after he suffered a serious thigh injury and then - as he was about to return to action - a collapsed lung.
De Jong was missing once again at Swansea at the weekend with a shin problem, but McClaren, who knew the midfielder from his own time in the Netherlands with FC Twente, is sure he has a good player on his hands when he is fit.
He said: "He can assist and he can score, and that's a big weapon to have, those two things. He's going to be a big asset for us.
"I remember when he came here, I remember thinking what a good signing that was. He's yet to light the place up, but that's purely because of injuries. He's just building up to get that chance.
"I think Siem has found that year out catching up with him, shall we say. He's going to take a while getting to the right tempo and the right level, but we can see it every day, that he's improving, getting better, and he can see that, too."
Even when De Jong is fully fit, he will face competition for a place in the team with the Magpies continuing to rebuild the squad which struggled so badly last season, although McClaren is adamant he must be ready to play his part when required.
He said: "Believe you me, the 1-11, I kind of ignore. I've always said that the most important people in a squad are the 11-18, and sometimes 18-23, because they are the ones who have got to come on and win you the game or draw it or make sure you secure the game.
"Everybody is as important and everybody has to be patient and everybody knows that in a tough Premier League, everybody will play games and everybody will play their part. Everybody."