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May 23, 2013

Debuchy relishing Prem challenge

Mathieu Debuchy has described to the Evening Chronicle his first six months in England as filled with both "difficult" and "interesting" times.

The former Lille full-back joined the Magpies in January along with four other players previously based in Ligue 1.

Two wins and a draw in his first four games provided Debuchy a promising start to his career on Tyneside but were in sharp contrast to a heavy defeat by Sunderland in April and his first red card for the club against Liverpool a little under two weeks later.

Only narrowly avoiding relegation, Debuchy said he is enjoying the challenges placed in front of him, citing them as one of the biggest reasons he chose to relocate to the north east after spending his entire career with Les Dogues.

"The Premier League is a very difficult league to play in, but by the same token it's an interesting one as well," he told the Evening Chronicle. "Why is the league difficult? It's because every match is difficult and I do mean every single one. You have some of the best players in the world in England right now, so the level in all games is of a really high standard.

"That is a challenge for me, but it's a challenge I wanted when I decided to join Newcastle United in the first place. I have really enjoyed the first four, five or whatever months I've had here. It's gone really well for me on and off the park. I thought Sunday was a decent performance to end the season with. We did OK and it's just a pity we conceded the goal when we did."

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Rob Elliott expects to be fit for the start of pre-season after surgery on an elbow complaint.

Elliott was involved in a spate of first-team appearances towards the end of last season after Tim Krul was ruled out for the season with a dislocated shoulder that he picked up against Sunderland in April.

Forced to miss the final home game of the season through suspension, the 27-year-old is optimistic he will return to training in time for the start of pre-season as he aims to build on a "fantastic" season with the club.

"I was in and out very quickly and the operation itself took less than an hour," he told the club's official website. "I'm scheduled to be back in as normal with everyone on the first day of pre-season, so it was perfect timing to get it done. It was something that needed to be done and couldn't be left any longer, so it worked out well in the end."

"I can look back over a fantastic year. I've had quite a few highlights and a few lowlights but that point against West Ham earlier this month was massive. It gave us the belief that everything was going to be okay and took us to within touching distance of safety.

"Other great moments were making my Premier League debut against Southampton, playing a part in our European adventure and keeping two clean sheets against Anzhi - it was fantastic. I also just love playing at St. James' Park. You can't beat it. It's a fantastic stadium and arena to play in and hopefully I've got more to come."

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