Jamal Lewis started back-to-back Newcastle games for the first time since February on Saturday.
The Northern Ireland international retained his place in the starting XI, having been given an opportunity against Norwich courtesy of Matt Ritchie’s suspension.
It was Lewis’ first Premier League start since the Magpies drew 1-1 with Wolves at home last season – a game where Lewis was criticised by Steve Bruce.
The left-back did well against the Canaries, especially considering we spent most of the game with 10 men.
But despite his decent showing, there was always a fear that Eddie Howe could drop him for the huge game against Burnley.
Fortunately, the manager stuck with Lewis. And the 23-year-old more than justified his selection.
One of Jamal Lewis’ best performances in a Newcastle shirt
It hasn’t been easy since Lewis joined Newcastle last year. He cost £15million from Norwich, and looked to be a smart piece of business amid talk he could join Liverpool instead.
But his debut season was one to forget. Lewis’ confidence disappeared, with Bruce eventually dropping him in favour of first Paul Dummett then Matt Ritchie.
Now Lewis is back in the starting XI, and had arguably his best game for the club on Saturday.
The Magpies looked a lot more solid defensively, helped by having an actual left-back playing left-back.
Lewis put in some vital challenges against Burnley, just like he did against Norwich. His defensive awareness was often criticised in his debut year, but he looked more than up to the task against the Clarets.
He also got the chance to attack more, finding a lot of space down the left. Hopefully his attacking prowess is something we can see more of in the coming weeks. Then again, that might be difficult considering the fixtures on the horizon.
Howe easily could have gone with experience and restored Ritchie to the starting XI on Saturday. But he stuck with Lewis, which was a confidence booster in itself.
Combine that with an excellent performance, and the defender is like a new signing. It might be a tired old cliché, but it’s the truth.