Florian Lejeune has given an expansive interview to nufc.co.uk about his plight back from a second devastating knee injury.
During the interview, Florian hinted at the possibility that he is close to a return to action. This is what the Frenchman said about the next few weeks of his rehabilitation:
“I’m due to go back to Rome next week to get the green light. Then after that, it will be another week or two until I am training back with the squad.
“I’ve been kicking the ball for quite some time now. I began doing a bit of ball work after the first month in Rome. During that second month, I was working with the ball and starting to kick out on the pitch that the clinic has.
“Then, of course, it’s very enjoyable for sure to come back here and get back out on the pitch. It’s always another step forward. I’m not far off making my comeback.”
This is some positive news as Lejeune is one of the best natural defenders in the squad. He also is very comfortable with the ball at his feet and has ta good passing range. Having two ball-playing defenders in the team could provide a boost to Newcastle’s often uninspired attack.
Florian Lejeune and Allan Saint-Maximin
Of course, it would mean dropping either Paul Dummett or Jamaal Lascelles to make way for Lejeune. Both Paul and Jamaal have played well this season so it will be interesting to see how Bruce fits Lejeune into the first eleven.
There are also Federico Fernandez and Ciaran Clark who have never let Newcastle down when they have played. So that’s six capable players for those three center-back positions.
Bruce may also consider transitioning to a flat back four as he did at times against Brighton. That would make the competition at the back all the more fierce. It would also allow Bruce to try some other options to get the anemic attack going.
With players like Matt Ritchie, DeAndre Yedlin, Andy Carroll, Allan Saint-Maximin, and Lejeune making there way back to full fitness, the fight for places is going to get intense all over the pitch.
We hope it will help keep performance levels high and bring some consistency to this team. Though that is not always that case as we have seen at times this season.
Jonjo Shelvey has not raised his game in the absence of Sean Longstaff. We also expect DeAndre Yedlin to get some games at right-back when he returns. Emil Krafth and Javier Manquillo have not laid a strong enough claim to that position just yet.