Considering how much he’s struggled since completing a big money move to Newcastle United last summer, you may be shocked to read the Joelinton stat that’s emerged following our 2-1 win over Everton.
Believe it or not, Sunday’s game was the FIRST time in 45 games that Brazilian has failed to feature under Steve Bruce.
Our £40m man featured in all 38 games last season, starting 32 and coming on from the bench on six occasions, with him also appearing in all of our six games this season (starting three times) before Bruce left him on the subs bench against Everton.
Has Bruce always played him in the past in a bid to boost his low confidence levels? Or to keep persevering with a player who we paid huge money to sign from Hoffenheim? Or have we just lacked better options in our squad, with Sunday being one of the first times this season Wilson, ASM, Fraser, Almiron and Murphy have all been fully fit and available for selection?
It’s probably a mixture of all of the above, however it makes you wonder if Joelinton’s absence is a sign of things to come now our strongest XI doesn’t appear to include him.
It must be said that he was brilliant in a No 10 role in that 3-1 win over Burnley, making Bruce’s decision to play him on the right side of a 4-5-1 in that 1-4 defeat to Man Utd all the more frustrating.
However, I struggle to see him coming back in anytime soon if we persist with the 5-3-1-1 formation that’s seen us pick up four points against top six contenders Wolves and Everton.
Allan Saint-Maximin is yet to sparkle in a free role behind Callum Wilson in that system, but he starts when fit – making you wonder where Joelinton fits in.
Perhaps the Brazilian will come in for ASM – who’s never far away from an injury – and play in the No 10 role he appears to enjoy best, but his lack of involvement may be a sign of things to come now Almiron is back in Bruce’s plans and Fraser ahead of him in the pecking order.