Newcastle - Newcastle United's injury-plagued striker Siem de Jong said he was willing to continue playing for the under-21 side to ensure he is in peak condition for when a first team opportunity comes around.
The Netherlands international made just five appearances in his debut season last term after he picked up a thigh injury which kept him out for several months and then suffered a collapsed lung.
Despite returning to fitness, the former Ajax Amsterdam forward has been restricted to just 107 minutes in the first team this season under new boss Steve McClaren, including the last 20 in the goalless draw at home to Stoke City on Saturday.
De Jong then requested to play for the under-21s for the first time in their 2-0 win over Aston Villa on Monday and said he would be happy to play for the youth side again.
"Twenty minutes is nothing compared to 90, so I was glad to play 90 ... and I want to play as much as possible to be ready when the opportunity comes to start in the first team," De Jong the club's website.
"I need to be ready and I need to improve my game -- and, at the moment, I need to do that here in the under-21s.
"I still need to play more games. Hopefully I'll get more minutes in the next few games but otherwise I'll try to keep my games up as much as possible with the under-21s, to keep fit and to be ready for when I get the chance in the first team."
Newcastle, struggling in the relegation zone in 18th place after just one win in 11 matches this season, next face a tricky trip to Bournemouth on Saturday.
Industrious midfielder Jack Colback won't be featuring against Bournemouth after suffering a knee injury in last month's 3-0 loss to arch rivals Sunderland which will keep him out of action for at least six weeks.
"It's better than we first thought, so that's a positive. I'm disappointed to be injured but from what it could have been, it's not too bad," Colback said.
"I had an initial scan where we feared it was going to be a bit longer (on the sidelines).
"That was followed by a further scan and we then went to see a specialist in London who gave us the better news that it's around six weeks. It was as good as it could have been," the former Sunderland midfielder added.