Jamal Lewis was the big loser of Newcastle United’s goalless draw with West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, despite not kicking a ball, after seeing Paul Dummett thrive in his place.
Toon boss Steve Bruce opted to bench Lewis for his side’s trip to The Hawthorns after hitting out at the £15m summer signing from Norwich City for his role in Wolverhampton Wanderers’ equaliser the previous week.
Bruce slammed the full-back for his failure to stop Pedro Neto’s delivery which led to Ruben Neves heading home, feeling that Lewis could have done more to prevent the ball from entering Martin Dubravka’s box.
Bruce said, via quotes by Chronicle Live, after the Wolves draw. “When you look at the goal, we should have stopped the cross and when the ‘keeper looks at it, could he have done better?”
Wolves’ visit to St. James’ Park marked Lewis’ 20th start from 23 Premier League outings for Newcastle to date but fell to the bench against West Brom for the first time since January after a run of nine-straight 90 minute appearances.
That run also returned Lewis’ sole assist in black and white across all competitions, with the 23-year-old – who Bruce described as “a very exciting prospect” when signed – picking out the unmarked Callum Wilson to hit Everton on the break and seal a 2-0 win.
Dummett was unable to influence the scoring at The Hawthorns on Sunday as United were forced to settle for a point against their relegation-rivals, but he produced a commanding defensive showing to help keep the Baggies at bay.
The weekend’s affair marked only the 29-year-old’s third start and fourth appearance of the Premier League season so far, having played just 23 minutes of top-flight football since recovering from a thigh injury last month.
Yet Dummett more than justified his recall, with the Wales international regularly positioned well to thwart West Brom’s advances down the Magpies’ left-hand channel and be lauded as a player “much better defensively than Lewis” by The Northern Echo.
Despite tiring towards the end of the game, which is acceptable for a player sidelined twice this season through injury since recovering from the hamstring issue sustained last January, Dummett was only dribbled past once by a West Brom player on Sunday, per WhoScored.
Ciaran Clark – who is regarded as one of the club’s most consistent performers – was beaten on the ground just as often, while making one fewer interceptions (1) than the injury-prone £35,000-per-week full-back (2).
Dummett even won a joint team-high four aerial duels and took 63 touches, the third-most by a Toon player behind only Emil Krafth (70) and Clark (68).
Lewis has averaged just 46.8 touches per Premier League game this season, along with 0.4 aerial duels won and 0.5 interceptions, while being dribbled past 0.9 times, per SofaScore.
The 23-year-old’s inability to prevent Neto’s cross, having been beaten by a quick burst of pace, had clearly left Bruce underwhelmed against Wolves, too.
And now seeing Dummett step in and live up to the challenge against a West Brom side just as desperate for a result will surely see the five-cap full-back carry the most stock into Friday’s clash with Aston Villa.