Having arrived in the summer transfer window from fellow Premier League side Burnley, Jeff Hendrick has quickly established himself as a key part of Steve Bruce’s side.
The 28-year-old has featured in every single top-flight game for the Magpies, completing the full 90 minutes in three out of the four – he even got his Newcastle career off to the perfect start with a goal and an assist in the opening day clash against West Ham at the London Stadium.
But in the Republic of Ireland’s defeat to Finland on late Wednesday afternoon, Hendrick delivered one of his poorest displays of the new season.
The midfielder struggled to get into the game at all, and it was no surprise to see him hooked mid-way through the second half of his country’s Nations League match.
As per Sofascore, his 6.2 match rating was only better than that of Aaron Connolly and Darren Randolph, and when you look at the underlying numbers behind his performance, it’s no surprise to see why.
He lost every single duel that he was involved, and conceded possession on 12 separate occasions, whilst he also made no tackles or interceptions whatsoever.
The 6 foot 1 ace looked surprisingly lightweight, especially given how he has performed in a Newcastle shirt this season – in the Premier League he has won an impressive 2.8 duels per game.
With the Magpies facing Manchester United next up in the top-flight, Steve Bruce will surely be pondering whether Hendrick’s display was just a minor blip in what has otherwise been a fine start to the new campaign.
With the Red Devils coming to town on Saturday, the Newcastle boss will have to make a decision fairly quickly on whether the 28-year-old will make the starting line-up. Having players in top form will be crucial to their chances of securing a victory against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, and they can’t afford to have passengers in the way Hendrick was on Wednesday.
And in other news, Steve Bruce is facing a hammer blow ahead of the visit of Manchester United.