For many, Fabian Schar is Newcastle’s best defender.
He’s a fan favourite because of his marauding runs from the back and Philippe Albert-esque wonder-strikes. But the Swiss international has found himself stuck on the bench in recent weeks.
Schar returned to action against Southampton, but it was far from the perfect comeback. Newcastle’s number five emerged at half-time ready to come on, replacing the injured Ciaran Clark at the heart of the defence.
Initially this seemed strange. There was no indication that Clark was hurt, while Schar has always played as the right centre-back in a back three. While Federico Fernandez has been comfortable in the middle and on the right.
Schar’s first real moment back in the side was a bad one. He watched a long ball sail over his head and into the path of Danny Ings, who neatly scored to put Southampton ahead.
It was a rare error from Schar, and one that he could easily have avoided. The ball was there for him to head away to safety. Did he not see Ings to his right? Or did he get a call to leave it from a teammate?
Regardless, it was an error that put Newcastle a goal down and could have cost us. Fortunately, goals from Jonjo Shelvey and Fernandez turned the game around.
But it was an uncharacteristic moment from Schar, and it should serve as a wake up call. A lot of fans have been pining for his return, while he’s probably been frustrated himself about sitting on the bench.
We haven’t seen such mistakes from Fernandez, Clark or Paul Dummett in recent weeks, our heroic centre-back trio who have massively excelled in black and white.
We’ve got so much quality at centre-back right now, so any mistake made is going to be scrutinised. If you’re not up to the task, we’ve got a plethora of players waiting to come in.
Despite his obvious talent, Schar is not guaranteed a place in the starting XI, and mistakes like the one he made against Southampton aren’t going to help his cause.