GAEL Bigirimana has vowed to come in from the cold and fight his way back into Alan Pardew’s plans.
The midfielder was something of a forgotten man at Newcastle United last season, making just a single first-team appearance against Morecambe in the Capital One Cup.
It was in stark contrast to the previous campaign, when Bigirimana looked set to become an integral part of Pardew’s plans after his £1m move from Coventry City.
He burst into the first team, playing 24 times, including starting the second leg of the Europa League quarter-final against Benfica.
However, as his form dipped he was banished to the Under-21s for much of his second season, even when the Magpies were suffering with injuries.
The experience, however, hasn’t fazed Bigirimana, who fled war-turn Burundi as a child and arrived in England as a refugee a decade ago.
And he has vowed to ‘learn’ from the difficult spell and come back stronger this summer.
“Sometimes you’ve got to learn from the outside,” he said.
“It’s never a nice place to be, but to be the best you’ve got to learn in any way you can.
“For me, I’ve taken this year as a learning lesson. It’s been a tough lesson, but a good one.”
Bigirimana has been linked with a move away from St James’s Park this summer, either permanently or on loan, as Pardew looks to rebuild his squad.
He regained a bit of form towards the end of the season for United’s second string, and was included on the first-team bench for the Premier League game at Stoke City.
Pardew admits the 20-year-old struggled for fitness last season, but believes the midfielder showed glimpses of the ability that made him a hit in his debut campaign.
“Gael had a few injuries and few setbacks,” the United manager said.
“But he actually came into his best form right at the end.
“That sometimes happens to younger players.”