Fabian Schar will be suspended for Sunday’s clash with Wolves after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Everton.
Rafa Benitez is now once again forced to rotate his squad, as injuries and suspensions continue to plague his starting XI.
Despite previously being frozen out of the side, Schar has become integral to Newcastle’s defence over the last month.
The centre-back helped the Toon to three wins in a row during their last five matches, a run which lifted them from the relegation zone.
His passing ability in particular has impressed Newcastle supporters, as well as his driving runs into midfield. But against Everton, Schar also showed his defensive talents, and was responsible for plenty of interceptions and key blocks.
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Thankfully, Benitez has plenty of cover in defence, but the side is likely to still miss Schar against Wolves.
Schar’s defensive stats
Sunday’s clash with Wolves will be the first time in five games the starting XI will be without Schar.
As displayed in recent matches, the main thing Newcastle will miss is the defender’s extraordinary passes from deep.
It’s a trait which has delighted fans, but more importantly, has often created fast counter attacks for Newcastle.
However it’s the Swiss star’s defensive capabilities which may become most apparent in his absence. Schar has actually completed 16 tackles in just six games this season. That’s five more than Fernandez who has played 12, and the same amount as Lascelles who has played 11.
He’s also made nine key blocks, the same amount as Fernandez and just two less than Lascelles. Although revered for his passing, his defensive contribution is far too often overlooked.
With Wolves boasting plenty of attacking threat, Newcastle may well be on the back foot for large spells.
But without Schar, the team are undeniably less effective on the counter. It’s no coincidence that Newcastle started winning after his inclusion in the side.
Schar must improve discipline
Something which is becoming a bit of a problem for Benitez is Schar’s discipline.
In just six matches for the Toon, he has already picked up five yellow cards and a suspension.
But what’s frustrating for the manager is that they are often needless.
Against Everton for example, he picked up a ridiculous booking for handball after slapping the ball away from an attacker’s feet.
Sometimes these reckless actions can be costly, as seen against Bournemouth last month.
With Newcastle 2-0 up and half-time approaching, Schar bizarrely went in dangerously on midfielder David Brooks, conceding a free-kick. The free-kick led instantly to a corner, which Bournemouth then scored from.
It was a cynical challenge, and given Newcastle’s poor defensive record from set-pieces this season, he should know better.
In his first game for Newcastle, Schar gave away a penalty against Chelsea after a sliding challenge on Marcos Alonso. It cost him his place in the team, and he didn’t feature in Newcastle’s next eight matches.
If the Swiss defender wants to keep his place in the team, he needs to make sure Benitez has no excuse to keep him on the bench.