During his press conference this morning, Steve Bruce was asked about the mental toughness that has been displayed by his squad this season. In his answer, he used Florian Lejeune as the ideal example of how determined his players are.
He touched upon the resilience Florian has shown to come back from two knee injuries in such a short span. This is what Steve had to say about the returning Frenchman:
“Flo, for example, who’s played his first game after what he’s gone through. The mental side for him to come back after a second cruciate in just months.
“He played on Saturday like he’s never been away. That little air of caution where he’s been knocking on my door for the last five weeks and disappointed that he hasn’t been playing.
“He came into the team on Saturday, and he looked terrific.”
We were so impressed with how Florian just slotted in against Crystal Palace as if he’d been playing all season long. It’s interesting that he’s been pushing Bruce for a start over the past few months.
Bruce has gone the sensible route with the 28-year-old. While Lejeune could well have been able to come back sooner, there was no reason to rush him with Ciaran Clark, then Paul Dummett playing so well on the left side of the back three.
A few weeks ago, Bruce revealed that he told Florian that he would bring him back when the time was right. Last Saturday was that time. With Jetro Willems out and Paul Dummet covering for him at wing-back, Bruce had little choice but to bring the Flo back into the team.
The fact that it was in the corresponding fixture from when he was injured in April was all the more fitting. With Dummett still an uncertainty for Thursday, we could see Lejeune again against Manchester United. Though we suspect that Bruce will make the decision that is best for Florian.