Rafa Benitez says Paul Dummett’s importance to Newcastle United has been highlighted during his spell on the sidelines.
The defender – who suffered a hamstring injury on the opening weekend of the season – is closing in on a comeback.
Dummett is back in light training ahead of the November 18 game against Manchester United.
However, the Old Trafford fixture could come too early for Dummett, who’s return is being carefully managed by Benitez and his staff.
In Dummett’s absence, Benitez has fielded summer signing Javier Manquillo out of position at left-back.
Dummett has his critics, but Benitez believes the 26-year-old – who has only played seven minutes of Premier League football this season – will improve the team when he returns to fitness.
People say ‘he needs to go to the byline and make crosses’. It doesn’t matter. He can make passes, he can defend, he can help at set pieces.Rafa Benitez
“I was talking with my staff about him,” said United’s manager.
“People don’t realise how important as a player he is until you lose the player.
“He was doing well last season.
“He’s a left full-back, who’s left footed who’s always done well for us.
“He’s someone who knows his job. He’s not bad in the air, he’s not bad with his left foot.
“People say ‘he needs to go to the byline and make crosses’.
“It doesn’t matter. He can make passes, he can defend, he can help at set pieces.
“He’s a player who will give you something different – something we don’t have already.”
Benitez hadn’t planned on starting right-footed Manquillo, signed from Atletico Madrid in July, so early in his United career.
However, Manquillo – who spent last season on loan at Sunderland –has started all but two of the club’s first 11 league fixtures.
“Manquillo’s not a left full-back,” said Benitez.
“He’s working as one and doing a really good job, because he’s right-footed and should play on the other side.
“You have to realise the situation we’re in.
“We were thinking about bringing him in, he would learn little by little, and maybe be on the bench, but we had to play him straight away.”
Newcastle are 11th in the Premier League table following successive defeats.