NEWCASTLE left-back Massadio Haidara believes the “tough time” he went through after Callum McManaman’s horror tackle will make him a stronger and better player.
The young Frenchman had an eventful introduction to English football after his transfer window move from Nancy in January.
Having forced his way quickly into the Magpies’ first team, Haidara was then the victim of a knee-high challenge by Wigan’s McManaman which threatened to end his season prematurely.
Haidara was fortunate not to suffer long-term damage, and returned to action before the end of the campaign.
And he believes the messages of support he got from his team-mates, staff and fans helped him get through the ordeal.
“I didn’t expect to get so much support from all the people that wrote to me,” he said.
“It is true what people say that when you know the fans are on your side it makes you play even better. They left me a lot of messages.
“It wasn’t just the supporters who were great, it was all the backroom staff and players. They really gave me a lot of strength.
“It gave me plenty of morale and it helped me come back earlier than planned. For me, it was a tough time and it was nice to get that help.”
Haidara picked up a hamstring injury at the end of the campaign which ruled him out for the last two games.
But the 20-year-old is confident he will return for pre-season ready to challenge for a regular first-team spot. “I think I will be stronger for all of my experiences for the new season,” he said.
“I’m happy with the contributions I have made, because I came here to play, not watch.
“In France, I had already played in the first team with Nancy.
“When I came here, I knew I wouldn’t be in the starting line-up quite as much.
“I’m definitely happy to have some game time under my belt. I just want to help the team. I hope that next season I’ll still be able to make the same contributions too.”
Haidara was one of five Frenchman signed by Newcastle in January, joined by Mathieu Debuchy, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Yoan Gouffran and Moussa Sissoko.
With the likes of Yohan Cabaye and Gabriel Obertan already at the club, the Gallic influence was crucial in helping Haidara adapt to his new surroundings after leaving home for the first time.
“I feel better and better as time goes on,” he added. “I feel more settled in.
“The first two or three weeks were difficult.
“Day by day, I am feeling happy both on and off the field. I understand the language better and I am speaking a lot better.
“I feel happy and settled, and hopefully it continues in the new season.”