While many of Newcastle’s fringe players failed to impress in a 1-1 FA Cup draw with Blackburn, Florian Lejeune proved a revelation on his return.
It was the Frenchman’s season debut after a horror knee injury in pre-season saw him side lined for the rest of 2018.
The central defender has shown incredible resilience to get back to full fitness in just six months, and now looks to be ready to join Newcastle’s relegation battle.
Lejeune impressed against Blackburn, and was shockingly commanding given how long he’s been out.
The centre-back made numerous strong challenges during the 90 minutes and was Newcastle’s most prominent defender.
The display has got Newcastle fans excited about his return.
While it may be too soon to rush him back into Premier League action, he’s certainly not far off a starting place for the Toon.
Newcastle fans react to Lejeune performance
Lejeune is the type of defender who makes the game look easy. He immediately makes us a much better side. Been missed hugely. #nufc
— Liam (@ldabbs89) January 5, 2019
— Will Hamilton (@Skumbo75) January 6, 2019
— Josh Banyard (@joshybanyard) January 5, 2019
— Barreh (@mduggan64) January 5, 2019
Lejeune is still our best cb btw #nufc
— Empèror Corleonê (@EmperorArtist) January 5, 2019
Lejeune been brilliant
— Coming Home Newcastle (@ComingHomeNUFC) January 5, 2019
Who would he replace?
Once Lejeune is fully up to speed, there’s no question he should be in the side.
But Newcastle are somewhat spoilt for choice when it comes to centre-backs this season.
Jamaal Lascelles, Federico Fernandez, Fabian Schar, Ciaran Clark and even Paul Dummett have all played there this season.
Injuries have helped Rafa Benitez keep the defenders rotating, but some seem more certain to start than others.
Lascelles has been particularly prominent in the side, but has received criticism from fans.
The club captain has had to adapt to a five at the back system in the past few months and has looked uncomfortable.
Dummett meanwhile has found himself a first choice in the last few weeks, due to being adept in a left centre-back role.
Benitez would be more likely to start Lejeune over Schar or Fernandez, despite the pair being fan favourites.
Both possess the Frenchman’s ball playing abilities, and as a result would be a like-for like swap.
But no matter what decision Benitez makes, supporters will always be pleased to see Lejeune back in action.