ISAAC HAYDEN claims Newcastle United’s failure to bring in a ‘star signing’ during the summer transfer window might have worked in the club’s favour as they look to re-establish themselves in the Premier League.

Newcastle were linked with a number of high-profile targets this summer, but much to Rafael Benitez’s obvious irritation, the vast majority failed to sign on the dotted line at St James’ Park.

With the likes of Moussa Sissoko, Georginio Wijnaldum and Andros Townsend having left in the wake of the club’s relegation from the top-flight, the current squad lacks some of the established international names that have represented the Magpies in the past.

In their place, Benitez has assembled a squad of equals, with each and every player having bought into the team ethic and a shared sense of responsibility for performances on the pitch.

The results have been positive so far, with Newcastle in the top half of the table after picking up ten points from their opening seven matches, and Hayden feels the absence of any egos is a key factor in his side’s success.

“We’re all hard-working and all have the right mentality, and I think that’s maybe the difference to what it’s been like at times in the past,” said the former Arsenal midfielder. “Yes, you can bring in star quality, if you want to call it that, and the fans’ favourite-type players that can be world-beaters on their day, but if they don’t work hard and have a strong team ethic like the rest of the lads here do, then it kills the team.

“We’ve got a really good team here in terms of the ethic and the values we have, and we also have real quality too. We’ve got quality on the ball, and when we do have time in possession, we’re capable of making things happen.”

The willingness of Newcastle’s players to sacrifice individual glory for the good of the team was apparent in last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool as they ran themselves into the ground in order to close down their illustrious opponents.

For all that they might have dominated possession, Liverpool were restricted to a handful of opportunities, particularly in the second half, as Benitez’s conservative game plan reaped dividends.

The Spaniard preaches organisation, team shape and work rate at every turn, and his approach is rubbing off on the players working under him.

“The attitude stems right from the manager,” said Hayden. “His core value is to not lose games, and he’s drummed into us that that has to be the starting point for whatever we’re doing.

“He’s always telling us, ‘Don’t put yourself out of games – always give yourself a chance to win’. We’ve all bought in to that. The lads that he’s brought in – not just this season, but also last season – all have good characters.”

That approach enabled Newcastle to overcome the disappointment of losing their opening two games to Tottenham and Huddersfield by putting together a run of three successive victories against West Ham, Swansea and Stoke.

A one-goal defeat to Brighton halted their momentum, but the draw against Liverpool means they remain in a buoyant mood as they look ahead to the end of the international break. Newcastle return to action with a trip to Southampton a week tomorrow, and both Matt Ritchie and Christian Atsu should be available for the trip to St Mary’s despite having had to pull out of their respective international matches.

“As a team, if you’d said we’d get ten points by now, then people would have bitten your hand off at the start of the season,” said Hayden. “From the lads’ point of view, we’ve always had belief in our ability.

“There were a lot of pundits writing us off before we had even started, but we’ve shown so far that we have the right mentality, and the right hunger and desire, to go out there and fight for every point we can get.

“We’ve got a really young squad – I think it’s the youngest in the Premier League – but we’ve got a lot of desire and hunger to get better and better, and with the manager we’ve got here, he’s only going to help us to do that. It’s exciting times playing for Newcastle.”