ISAAC HAYDEN has described how he wants to put himself in to England contention with his performances for Newcastle United this season, even though he knows how hard the challenge is with those already ahead of him.

Gareth Southgate’s style of play with the national team leaves it harder for a more defensively-minded player to force his way into the squad, particularly with the likes of Jordan Henderson and Declan Rice currently in the head coach’s thoughts.

But Hayden, who has enjoyed a fine run in the Magpies team dating back to last season, will not be put off by the competition having played for his country at every level between the Under-16s and Under-21s, where he was once called up by Southgate.

The 24-year-old certainly has the time on his side but looking at the England squad that has been announced to face Bulgaria and Kosovo, he is keen to stay focused on the challenge facing him to break into the national team’s plans one day.

Hayden said: “I do think about it (playing for England). I think the issue is that with the way that England play, they tend to go with a lot more attacking, ‘flair’ type of players in that area.

“They rarely restrain themselves – from what I see looking in from the outside, Gareth only really has one or two players who can play in that more (defensive) position.

“Unfortunately, for me, I’ve got Jordan Henderson, Liverpool captain and Champions League winner, who in the last couple of years has really stepped up his game to the levels where he is now.

“Then you’ve obviously also got Declan Rice, who’s 20, and who has quit the Republic of Ireland to come to England, so it’s difficult to leave him out of the squad.

“It’s difficult for me because of the two players that are in there who would probably play in my position, or be my style of player. It’s difficult for me to get in there, but I think the most important thing for me is to just keep playing the games I’m doing.

“If I’m playing the games and performing to the required level, then if I get in, I get in. If not, I’ll carry on playing and working.”

Southgate has shown during his time in charge of England that he is not afraid to bring new faces in to the group if he thinks it is warranted.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Tyrone Mings have had first call-ups this time. Hayden said: “The most important thing is it’s not something where you can just have six good months. You have to be performing regularly for a long period of time to break into that group.

“You hear a lot of fans who talk about it, and they say, ‘oh, this player should be playing for England or this player should be playing for England’, but it’s like any manager, if you’re a manager of a squad of players and that squad of players has done well for you and got to the semi-final of the World Cup, you’re going to have a lot of faith in them.”

Hayden is a sensible talker and intelligent enough to realise Newcastle’s form could also have a bearing on his hopes of an England call. There are exceptions, though, and he will be doing what he can to help Steve Bruce’s side build on a reasonably decent start in the Premier League.

The former Arsenal midfielder said: “I got called up once (for the Under-21s under Southgate), but I didn’t play. It was the year he got brought into the first team. I just have to be patient and work hard. I’ve had a god few months, but that means nothing in England. Hopefully, it’ll be a lot easier for me to have that consistency over the course of this next season. The manager here has a lot of faith in me, and I obviously try to repay that as much as I can. I just have to keep working hard, keep performing.”