Christian Atsu is due back in the UK on Tuesday (today) after an African Cup of Nations tournament which eventually ended in disappointment.

In 2015 he was named player of the finals but this time had to settle for being selected in the team of the tournament, whilst he and his Ghana teammates ended up losing the 3rd/4th place play-off to Burkina Faso, after losing to eventual winners Cameroon in the semi-finals.

As he prepared to fly back to the UK and then on to Tyneside, Christian Atsu released this message for the Ghanaian supporters:

“As I leave Africa and head back to the UK, I just want to take a moment to say a big thank you to all the Ghanaian fans for your support to the Black Stars team throughout the AFCON tournament.

“You have been absolutely amazing for us, and joined us with the positivity and belief.

“Unfortunately, things did not go as we wanted so we could not celebrate together, but we will continue to work hard and will come back stronger so please keep believing!.

“Thanks again to all of you, we really appreciate you getting behind us.”

The winger comes over as a genuine bloke/player and it is one of the puzzles of this season as to why Rafa Benitez hasn’t utilised Atsu more.

Only six Championship starts so far, as Yoan Gouffran has been preferred, with only three months of the season remaining there is surely no chance of the deal becoming a permanent move unless Christian Atsu becomes a regular starter in this second tier football and impresses.

He has always spoke positively about being at Newcastle and wanting to stay and so hopefully that will serve as an extra incentive to impress and earn a longer-term stay.

One of the qualities that Newcastle have been missing in the absence of Dwight Gayle is any real pace in the midfield or attack, so would be good to see Atsu (and hopefully Gayle) delivering that in the upcoming games, especially with five of the next seven matches being away from home and NUFC likely to be trying to be playing on the counter-attack a little more.

Despite only starting the six league matches, Christian Atsu has managed three Championship goals, which have contributed in a major way to the wins over Wigan, Cardiff and Rotherham.

After five full 90 minutes and a sub appearance in the 3rd/4th play-off, hopefully the winger will be back in training on Wednesday and be available for selection at Wolves on Saturday.