Steve Bruce has revealed the reasons behind the delay in handing Matty Longstaff his first start of the season.
The 20-year-old was named in the starting line-up at Manchester City on Boxing Day, the first time since the 2-2 draw at Goodison Park against Everton on January 21.
Longstaff put in a fine performance for the Magpies and had the best pass completion in the team with 26.
Bruce said: “He gave a performance which reminded me of why I put him in the team last year.
“He’s obviously had a really, really difficult time in terms of a thigh injury which he really couldn’t shake off. He broke down twice, three times with it, and then he had a case of not being right in himself.
“He’s had to wait patiently.
“We had to bide our time with him to make sure he is physically right. He lost a lot of weight during the lockdown for whatever reason.
“Thankfully he’s got that back, and he’s reminded us what a good player he is.”