Rafa Benitez has offered a stunning assessment of recently sidelined defender Paul Dummett, claiming people don’t realise how important the NUFC left-back is to the club following his return to training after several months out.
Dummett was Rafa’s most used player in the Championship last season, playing 45 times, however he has not been seen since the opening day of the season after he hobbled off early in the 2-0 defeat to Tottenham.
The 26-year old Geordie has stepped up his recovery in recent weeks and has returned to training this week, and Benitez has been full of praise for him – claiming people don’t realise how important he is to NUFC:
“I was talking with my staff about Paul Dummett.
“People don’t realise how important as a player he is, until you lose the player.
“He was doing well last season – he’s a left-back, who is left-footed and who has always done well for us.
“He is someone who knows his job – he is not bad in the air, he is not bad with his left foot.
“People say that ‘He needs to go to the byline and make crosses’ – it doesn’t matter, he can make passes, he can defend, he can help at set-pieces.
“He is a player who will give you something different, something that we don’t have already.
Some praise from Rafa here – especially given Dummett is a player that has split opinion across the terraces at St James’ Park.
Benitez makes some valid points. He may not be your typical, high flying modern day full-back, but he is strong in the air, solid defensively and is improving bit by bit on the ball.
Rafa then discussed Manquillo – the summer signing who has been forced to fill in at left-back despite being right-footed:
“Manquillo is not a left-back.
“He is working as one and doing a really good job because he is right-footed and should play on the other side.
“You have to realise the situation we are in…
“We were thinking about bringing him in, he would learn little by little and maybe be on the bench but we had to play him straight away.”
This, more than anything, highlights just why Rafa was so keen to land a left-back on deadline day, with him clearly being reluctant to play a right sided defender at left-back given his love for balance.
Manquillo has done a decent job in his defence, and he was brought in partly due to his versatility, however it was evident against Bournemouth that he was always wanting to cut in on his right foot.
Saturday’s trip to Man Utd will come too soon for Dummett, but expect to see him return to the fray in the next few weeks – Rafa clearly likes him.