It was good to see two players who have not played much recently for Newcastle put in good displays in the 1-0 win over Derby County.
Mo Diame started his first game since returning from the African Cup of Nations after playing for Senegal in that tournament and he looked very good in the first half.
His instructions seemed to be to run at the opposition and get those shots in.
He’s powerful when he’s playing well and he could yet be a critical player for Newcastle through the end of the season.
Mohamed Diame in action against Derby
Rafa has also complimented big Scottish center-back Grant Hanley, who will never be one of the most elegant of Newcastle’s players, but he’s effective as a stopper and he’s a leader and very vocal when he does play.
This is what Rafa has told the local media about Mo Diame’s first half performance and being able to give Hanley a start:
“Diame was making the difference and he was doing really well.”
“We lost a little bit of control when Hayden went off because in these areas he was a threat against them.”
“But we needed to do it because we knew it could be one of the situations that we had to change and a decision to make during the game.”
“Jamaal’s fine, he just had a little bit of discomfort in his groin but we wanted to protect him.”
“Grant was also training really well so I’m happy because what we did was to give an opportunity to Hanley and rest Jamaal.”
Jamaal had a slight groin problem, but it will now be interesting to see if Hanley retains his place in our next game at Wolves next Saturday – where we need another win.
It’s wins and more wins that will get us promoted this season.