It must have been a very long six months and 28 matches to wait for Grant Hanley.
Having started 44 of Blackburn’s Championship games last season, the Scottish international started the opening day/night defeat at Fuham, before then waiting, and waiting, and waiting for his next chance to impress Rafa Benitez.
Whatever he did in his half dozen cup appearances was never going to be enough to convince Rafa Benitez, so Hanley had to wait for a combination of Chancel Mbemba away on international duty and Jamaal Lascelles to have a total nightmare in the home match with QPR.
The Newcastle Captain had been struggling in recent matches but that QPR game left Rafa with little option but to take Lascelles out of the firing line.
Just like Daryl Murphy before him, summer signing Grant Hanley came in and showed his worth against Derby County, not outstanding but did all the simple things well, cleared the ball and got his head on it when required. Leaving the football to Jonjo Shelvey and others.
After that win and clean sheet, it surely is almost impossible to imagine Jamaal Lacelles coming straight back in for Hanley, so the former Blackburn player looks set to get another chance alongside the excellent Ciaran Clark at Wolves.
The centre-back also has the perfect advice for the Newcastle Captain and the rest of the NUFC squad, saying ‘you just need to keep your head down and keep working hard’.
As Ciaran Clark showed when getting his chance after Lascelles and Mbemba had a nightmare in the home defeat against Wolves, opportunities are there to be taken and he hasn’t looked back since – whilst Chancel Mbemba has taken his place on the bench.
“Going into every game and it’s the game of the season for them (Newcastle’s opponents), everybody wants to beat Newcastle and it is certainly a different kind of pressure, a better kind of pressure than fighting for your life every week.
“When a club like Newcastle wants you, it’s massive – it (St James Park) is second to none when you are out there and the fans are behind you.
“Hopefully, we can build a bit of a fortress and teams won’t enjoy coming here.”
From Blackburn to Newcastle:
“It is difficult, obviously I have come from playing most weeks to being on the bench most weeks.
“You learn in football that you need to adapt quickly and you need to do whatever it takes.
“It’s not a situation that’s unfamiliar to me. I had it for a couple of years at Blackburn as a young lad trying to break into the team.
“The thing is, you just need to keep your head down and keep working hard.
“Football can change, for better or worse, at the drop of a hat…you just need to make sure you’re ready at all times.