Ryan Fraser badly betrayed Steve Bruce with an invisible display in Newcastle United’s Carabao Cup quarter-final loss to Brentford on Tuesday night.
The ex-AFC Bournemouth wide man started the action away to the Bees as Bruce sought to secure the Magpies a place in their first League Cup semi-final since 1976, yet left the pitch after 65 minutes having run out of steam with nothing to show for his efforts.
Fraser had returned from a hamstring injury in Newcastle’s 5-2 humbling at Leeds United last week before only making the bench against Fulham, and would have sought to use a meeting with lower-league opposition as his chance to display his importance to the side.
Yet he could not deliver anything of true significance as Brentford emerged 1-0 victors thanks to a 66th-minute effort from Josh Dasilva, moments after Bruce had replaced Fraser with club-record striker Joelinton.
Fraser came close to assisting fellow summer arrival Callum Wilson with a teasing delivery into the Brentford box, but his cross proved his only telling contribution on a night where goalkeeper Karl Darlow had more touches of the ball (31) than the 26-year-old (30), per SofaScore.
The Scotland midfielder further failed to impress having offered no additional crosses than the ball which failed to meet Wilson in the centre, while also losing out in his sole attempted dribble, two of four ground duels and each of his two aerial contests.
Fraser hugged the left-hand touchline inside the Bees’ territory at the Brentford Community Stadium, so Bruce would have expected a greater offensive contribution than what he saw from the £10.8m-rated man, with left-back Jamal Lewis recording five attempted crosses and one key ball despite venturing forward into the final-third just as often.
Bruce has previously lauded the impact he expected Fraser to add to his plans alongside Wilson, feeling the pair’s initial influence would bring a bright future the Toon are yet to see.
“It gives me what we have never had. I think, since the summer, the four players added to the squad has given us options and we’re better for it,” Bruce said, via quotes by the Chronicle.
“Certainly, Callum and Ryan have given us another dimension if you like. That is what we’re looking for.”
But Bruce will struggle to see a reason to hand Fraser only his third Premier League start in black and white when Newcastle visit Manchester City on Boxing Day after his horror show against Brentford, whose players dribbled past the Aberdeen-born winger more often than he was able to make a successful tackle.