Florian Lejeune, when fit, is certainly one of Newcastle’s best defenders at the club, and news from the Chronicle that he is close to a return is fantastic news, but that will rightly not be at Chelsea.
Having been out for so long – and not for the first time – Lejeune’s rehabilitation has been a slow process, and should not end now that he is feeling ready.
It would have been lunacy to throw him back in at Stamford Bridge so soon after his return to training, and particularly when his position is the one area where Newcastle have plenty of options.
The best thing for Lejeune would be to travel with the squad, and begin the re-integration to the first-team picture. It should then be followed by at least a couple of games for the under-23 side, as one of the over-age players.
Only then, once he has had some real, competitive minutes under his belt should he be considered for a first-team recall – and even then, it should be from the bench.
Newcastle have got it right and wrong over returning players this season
Newcastle have showed both the right and wrong methods of bringing injured players into the side.
With Andy Carroll they got it bang on. They nurtured him slowly and carefully, before gradually easing him in gently, with a few minutes from the bench at first, then stepping up his game time each subsequent week.
The results are there to see, he looks fit, sharp and virtually ready to start, which will be the next target.
On the flip-side, is the handling of Allan Saint-Maximin. Having been out with a muscle issue, they rushed him back – more through desperation than anything else – and it backfired badly, with him limping off at Spurs, having aggravated the problem.
I am sure most fans would agree with adopting the Carroll approach with Lejeune, because when he is fully ready, and makes a proper comeback, we will have a central defensive three the envy of many of our Premier League rivals.