There’s no doubt that Newcastle United centre back Federico Fernandez wasn’t on head coach Steve Bruce’s radar at the start of the season.
The Argentine international was marooned out of the starting line-up, unable to dislodge Swiss star Fabian Schar on the right hand side of the Magpies’ three man central defence.
However, in a stunning turn of events, the 30-year-old is surely now undroppable after producing another monster performance in Newcastle’s 2-1 victory over Bournemouth on Saturday.
He flicked the ball on for Ciaran Clark’s winning goal, while proving to be defensively solid from his team’s shaky start to the game until their assured finish.
Bruce will undoubtedly have a serious dilemma on his hands once Schar returns to full fitness, because he really can’t take Fernandez out of the line-up at the minute, nor Clark. Captain Jamaal Lascelles went off injured at St James’ Park, but the severity of that remains unclear.
The statistics from Saturday demonstrate why Fernandez must stay in the team moving forward. As per WhoScored.com, the former Swansea City man made three tackles, the second most of any Newcastle player.
He also produced a team-leading 10 clearances – that’s a quite stunning tally, showing how pivotal he was to the Magpies’ defensive efforts. He also blocked two shots and knocked 10 long balls forward to the team’s attackers.
So while Bruce clearly needed convincing of what the Argentine can do at the back, he has had his newly-discovered faith justified in recent weeks. Now, Fernandez is surely one of the first names on the team sheet.