Jamal Lewis has been handed a start for Northern Ireland in this afternoon’s Nations League match against Kosovo in Belfast. This will be Jamal’s 27th cap for Northern Ireland.
— Northern Ireland (@NorthernIreland) September 24, 2022
The 24-year-old has not featured much over the past year as he’s struggled with multiple injuries. A long-term groin issue was addressed earlier this year leading to exclusion from Newcastle’s 25-man squad for the second half of last season.
The left back underwent multiple operations during that time to resolve the chronic issue. He returned for pre-season but struggled to regain full fitness until August. His only appearance this season was in the Carabao Cup where he came on in the second half for Matt Targett.
Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough spoke about Lewis’s call-up for his national team. Baraclough feels that Lewis is over the worst of his fitness woes saying:
“Having spoken to him he is in a good place fitness-wise. I think it can worry a player when you keep picking up these niggles and you are going to have procedures on them.
“It puts doubt in your mind and Jamal has gone through quite a bit over the last year to fight to regain his fitness. This has been over a period where a new manager has come into his club in Eddie Howe.
“That all plays on the mind if you are not quite right. Jamal is in a much stronger position. I know he has been named in the 25-man squad for Newcastle in the Premier League. So he will be looking to get his opportunities with his club. He will come to us in a different frame of mind.”
This start is very encouraging for Jamal and hopefully, he’ll be able to get 90 minutes under his belt. He’s been preferred over Paul Dummett on the bench recently and is working his way back into the reckoning at St. James’ Park.
Lewis hasn’t started a match since December when he injured his hamstring at Liverpool. His last appearance for Northern Ireland was in November during World Cup qualification.