Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce hailed senior player Ciaran Clark for his performance on Tuesday night, as he made a return from a long-term injury and impressed in the heart of defence.
The 30-year-old Irishman played his first competitive football since February due to a serious ankle problem and he’s had a spate of injuries in the last few years at St James’ Park.
He is a left-footed centre-back that played 90 minutes on his return and helped the Magpies pick up the victory in a second round Carabao Cup fixture.
Newcastle managed a narrow 1-0 home victory against Championship opposition Blackburn Rovers and new signing Ryan Fraser scored the winner in the first-half, as he latched onto a through ball from Miguel Almiron and finished one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
The Toon will travel to League Two side Morecambe in the third round of the domestic cup, but their attention as now shifted to a home league fixture with Brighton on Sunday.
Bruce gave a special post-match mention to Clark following his strong display on a return to first-team action.
“Ciaran Clark was the big one for me – I thought he was immaculate considering he hadn’t played since around last Christmas time,” Bruce said, as quoted by the club’s official Twitter account.
Clark is one of the senior figures in the Newcastle camp now aged 30 and his bad luck with injuries is a concern, but his midweek performance shows he’s still a quality operator and the comments from the manager should give him a real boost.
He’s a classy centre-back that reads the game well and throws his body on the line, so it will be interesting to see if he can force his way into the Premier League XI, with captain Jamaal Lewis and Federico Fernandez currently the preferred starting centre-back partnership.