Ki Sung-Yueng’s Asian Cup is over already.
The midfielder is reportedly on his way back to Newcastle after struggling to recover from a hamstring injury. He came off in South Korea’s opening group game, and hasn’t featured since.
When Ki left for the tournament, he was in the midst of his best run as a Newcastle player and it looked like we would struggle without him.
While that has been true to a certain extent, the emergence of Sean Longstaff has been a real positive.
Longstaff form can soften the Ki blow
When Ki first left, Newcastle’s midfield pair was Mo Diame and Isaac Hayden. However, Diame’s injury gave Longstaff a chance. The youngster has started every game since the FA Cup clash with Blackburn, and has got better each passing game.
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He made his first Premier League start at Stamford Bridge, then this Saturday started his first league game in front of the St James’ Park crowd. Longstaff wasn’t overawed, and put in yet another assured performance.
While some have likened his composure on the ball to Michael Carrick, he has similar qualities to what Ki brought to the side. Longstaff retains the ball well and keeps us ticking over.
The injury to Ki is certainly a blow for Rafa Benitez, but the emergence of Longstaff means that we can certainly cope.