Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has said that he expects Magpies utility man Paul Dummett to eventually end up as a centre back.
The Welsh international is nominally a left back and operated in that position for the first half of the season, but has played at the heart of the defence in Newcastle’s last two games.
Benitez has had his say: “Yeah he can,” he told The Chronicle when asked if Dummett could end his career as a centre half. “I still think he can play in other positions, though, but obviously if you play with five at the back he is OK on the left as a centre-back.
“But every year he gets a little bit better so he’s not going to be Lionel Messi, but for a defender, his positional game is quite clever and he knows the decisions he has to make. He is somebody that tactically will get better and better, so he becomes a better player.”
This praise from Benitez is about as gushing as it gets from a manager with a reputation as one of the coldest bosses in the game. Tyneside appears to have thawed him somewhat in the past few years, though, and on this occasion Dummett is the welcome recipient of his cheerful mood. The Welshman has been in excellent form over the past couple of games, it’s true, impressing off the bench against Everton before putting another fine shift in against Bournemouth last time out. He has never been the most offensive-minded of full backs, so it makes for him to eventually make the full time transition to centre back. He’s certainly showed recently that he has the quality to operate as part of a three man backline. Whether he would do as well as part of a centre half duo remains to be seen, but it does seem like the 27-year-old will one day be plying his trade at the heart of the Newcastle defence on a regular basis.