The Republic of Ireland international found himself well down the pecking order at St. James’ Park, and with the likes of Fabian Schar and Jamaal Lascelles flying high, it seemed as if he was destined to spend another season watching from the sidelines.
Over the past few matches he has been drafted into the starting XI, however, and has performed admirably.
And all of that has been enough to see him move up to sixth in Sky Sports’ Premier League power rankings.
The fact that he has two goals in two games certainly hasn’t hurt the centre-back’s ascension up the table, but even if we take that unlikely occurrence out of the equation, it’s clear that he is fully deserving of a place near the summit after a stellar period of form.
And other members of Newcastle’s squad must be looking to him as a beacon of hope.
After all, if he can fight his way back in from the relative wilderness to reclaim a spot in the side, and to reaffirm it with such a comprehensive march to the top end of the form charts, then there is no reason why others cannot follow example.
If they did, Steve Bruce would surely love it.