Steve Bruce has fallen back to square one after his decision to start Paul Dummett over Jamal Lewis backfired terribly in Newcastle United’s 1-1 draw with Fulham.
Dummett was thrown straight in at the deep end on Saturday as he made his first appearance in 11 months, at a time the Toon desperately needed a win after being humbled and humiliated away to Leeds United during the week.
Bruce sought to make changes at left-back after Lewis endured a horror show evening at Elland Road, where Raphinha toyed with the summer arrival from Norwich City as Marcelo Bielsa’s Whites ran riot to win 5-2.
Dummett was never thought to be the one to inspire victory over Fulham single-handily but struggled to get into gear as Newcastle opted to park the bus at home to a relegation-threatened side that had already allowed 22 goals in the Premier League this season.
Rafa Benitez took a shine to Dummett during his time on Tyneside when the Welshman rose from the fringes to establish himself firmly as a first-team player, yet even the Spaniard knew the £35,000-per-week full-back was not going to ever make an outlandish impact.
“He is one of the players we have who understands what to do better than anybody. In terms of position, you’ll put him as a left-back or a left-sided centre-back, he knows what he has to do,” Benitez told the Chronicle.
“He never takes too many risks, and he’s quite consistent. If you want him to attack more – and he’s not an offensive full-back – but he will try and give you some width too. When he has to defend, he will do it, but when we attack, he is aware to stop counter-attacks.”
Bruce has been without Dummett since January when the 29-year-old sustained a season-ending hamstring injury, before seeing his comeback dealt several setbacks with a muscle problem in pre-season and a reoccurrence of a hamstring problem.
Dummett was not expected to be fit to face Fulham yet was thrown straight into the deep end with a place in the starting line-up and, unfortunately for him, sunk.
The £4m-rated defender was inevitably rusty, which did him no favours, as Dummett trudged on to record no successful tackles, clearances or shots blocked before being replaced in the 79th-minute, per SofaScore.
He was able to register three interceptions, win three of five aerial contests and one of two ground duels, but did little when on the ball as he hugged the left-hand side of the half-way line for his 31 touches.
Ultimately, Dummett was replaced having completed 18 passes, with neither leading to a chance and neither coming from a cross or long ball as the five-time international sought to keep things simple.
Bruce will have taken little comfort from Dummett’s display having mostly just made up the numbers on the left-hand side and is firmly back at square one ahead of Tuesday’s Carabao Cup quarter-final meeting with Brentford.