Newcastle United full-back Emil Krafth shone for Steve Bruce after coming on to replace the injured Javier Manquillo in Saturday’s 3-2 win over Southampton.
Bruce opted to field Manquillo in the Toon’s starting line-up but soon lost the Spaniard after just 24 minutes, with the defender forced off after sustaining an apparent muscular issue.
Krafth had not featured in a Premier League match since producing a difficult display in a 3-0 defeat at Arsenal on January 18th, after which the 26-year-old was linked with a move away from St. James’ Park amid alleged interest from Super Lig side Istanbul Basaksehir.
Krafth was seen as believing that his recall to the side which lost at the Emirates served as a second chance, having started only his fourth top-flight fixture of the campaign in north London after being left an unused substitute nine times and omitted from four prior squads.
It turned out not to be the case with Bruce leaving the £3.5m-rated full-back on the bench in United’s following four matches, but Krafth more than took his chance to impress against Southampton when the Magpies needed him the most.
Much of the acclaim for the Toon seeing out their 3-2 win headed the way of Isaac Hayden, after the midfielder was again called on as a makeshift centre-back following a raft of injuries at the back.
The Chronicle and The Northern Echo both awarded Hayden a nine out of 10 rating for his performance against the Saints, as the Arsenal product produced an array of crucial clearances and did superbly well to repel an onslaught of late attacks.
Krafth, meanwhile, was given a six for his efforts by Chronicle Live and a seven from The Northern Echo, to leave the 24-cap outcast the unsung hero of only Newcastle’s second win in 14 games across all competitions.
But, even when walking on a knife-edge after being shown a yellow card in first-half stoppage-time, the £57,000-per-week full-back did not let Newcastle down against Southampton as he helped to batten down the hatches on Saturday.
While Hayden was praised for his clearances, Krafth registered a joint-game high seven of them alongside Paul Dummett as they worked in tandem to protect Karl Darlow’s goal and United’s lead, per WhoScored.
Krafth, like Hayden, also registered an interception but unlike his 25-year-old teammate, the first-half introduction further won possession with each of his two attempted tackles. Hayden, meanwhile, failed to claim the ball with his only attempted lunge as one of just three Toon members to have been dribbled past by a Saints player.
The 6ft full-back and Hayden also won possession in the air twice from three and two duels and committed two fouls each, with the only aspect in which Krafth – who also won four of six ground duels, per SofaScore – truly lacked was in retaining possession as he completed just 46% of his 13 passes by prioritising keeping danger away from Darlow rather than pinpoint accuracy.
Krafth did not do enough to steal the headlines on a day Miguel Almiron hit a brace, Joe Willock scored on his debut and Allan Saint-Maximin registered two assists, but his efforts deserve a lot more acknowledgement than they’ve received.