When Newcastle United signed Dan Burn in January 2022, not many would have expected him to be the club’s starting left-back in both a Champions League challenge and a Carabao Cup final.

While Burn had operated in that role at Brighton, the fact Newcastle brought in Matt Targett that very same day appeared to suggest Eddie Howe was eager to play Burn centrally.

Still, while Targett impressed during the early stages of his career clad in black and white, the former Aston Villa man has struggled for game time since.

Newcastle United Training Session
Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

Though injuries have not helped, the 27-year-old has been limited to only four Premier League starts this season.

Even more alarmingly for him, Kieran Tierney is also increasingly linked with a move to St James’ Park.

Still, Howe saw enough value in Targett to make his loan move a permanent arrangement after only six months at the club in a deal worth around £15m.

Now, the Newcastle boss has explained the latest on the defender.

Eddie Howe says Matt Targett has been unfortunate

Speaking to The Chronicle, Howe said: “Matt’s been really unfortunate. He’s been a victim of the team’s success, really.

“I am a believer in a consistent back four. That is an area of the team I would not want to rotate too much if possible, so all of the defenders that have found themselves out of the team have been victims of the consistency of the players that have played.

“The defensive record has been very strong. I don’t think we were at our very best defensively against West Ham, but it was great to see Matt on the pitch and he’s very much valued by us. We’ll look at the opposition, as we always do, and try to pick the best team to win the game.”

Newcastle United Training Session
Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

Why change a winning formula?

Though Burn may have hardly covered himself in glory during the sticky patch Newcastle went through at the start of the year, it would seem strange to start changing a winning formula.

Howe has not been one to tinker and, currently, there is no real need to.

Newcastle boast the best defence in the Premier League, after all.

Sadly for Targett, getting back into it looks a tough old ask.

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