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Haidara back stronger than ever

Newcastle United defender Massadio Haidara insists he is stronger than ever after recovering from the horror challenge that could have ended his season.

Haidara, 20, was signed from Nancy in January and began life on Tyneside with a succession of good performances in the club's Europa League campaign.

The full-back was given his first Premier League start at Wigan last month, but was stretchered off when Callum McManaman caught him above the knee with a reckless tackle.

Haidara had been unable to straighten his leg for some time after the incident, and it had been feared that he could be out for up to a year. But he escaped serious injury and made a swift return against Benfica last week and said he was happy to be playing again so soon.

"It's a real pleasure to be back from injury," he told the Evening Chronicle. "I really think that my durability will be better now. I thought my season was over after what happened at Wigan, but I'm delighted to be able to play again this season.

"The team really needs all of the players available for the last few games, I'm ready and available to help the team."

Named as a substitute against arch-rivals Sunderland on Sunday, Haidara said the players had put the 3-0 defeat to the back of their minds and were concentrating on the game against West Bromwich Albion at the weekend.

"Of course we were very, very disappointed on Sunday. The players, the staff, everyone at the club are disappointed because we all know that it was a very important game for Newcastle," he explained.

"We needed the three points, but the first thing we do now is think about the West Brom game.

"We really need to win this game. We want to win it for the fans. If we can do that and stay in the Premier League this season, we will look to end it as high up the table as possible."

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