There has been a lot of talk about how many Rafa Benitez buys aren’t currently in the first eleven but in Ciaran Clark, surely this must arguably be the Championship’s signing of the season.

Yet again he was Man of the Match on Monday night and how ironic for Aston Villa fans that he was allowed to leave and they have spent a relative fortune replacing him with inferior players.

For many supporters Ciaran Clark is their player of the season and a major factor in Newcastle having the best defence in the second tier, conceding less goals (25) than anybody else.

As for his philosophy of what the Championship is all about, Clark says ‘It isn’t about playing pretty football all the time, it is about showing the fight and making sure you come off the pitch with the three points’.

Ironically, whilst the former Villa player shows fight in abundance, he is also a very good footballer and is by far Newcastle’s best defender on the ball.

Often striding out of defence, as well as being quick and good in the air when defending, he rarely wastes a pass.

Whilst it may well be all about fighting to get out of this division, if/when promoted Ciaran Clark is very much near the top of the list of players who would be good enough to keep their places in the Premier League.

In my opinion, I think he could also be a leading candidate to be a future captain of Newcastle United…

Ciaran Clark talking to NUFC TV:

“It (Villa) was a good win for us, we knew that Aston Villa were a good side and they have got some good players – we knew that we were in for a tough game.

“We got the goal and that settled us down and then the second which killed the game.

“We wanted to focus on getting a clean sheet (after conceding two soft goals at Norwich) and we know we have the players to then score the goals.

It was a hard fought game at Bristol City (earlier this season – 1-0 win) and that is what it is all about in this league. It isn’t about playing pretty football all the time, it is all about showing the fight and making sure you come off the pitch with the three points.”

‘Confident there is enough quality to replace Dwight Gayle’s goals if he is missing?’

“Yes, obviously a blow to us that Dwighty came back and then had to go off injured – but Mitro came on and did really well. Murph has also shown he is more than capable of getting goals when given the chance.

“We obviously want Dwight back as soon as possible but we know we have lads ready to step in.

“We feel like we are on a good run now, in good form. It is all about concentrating on the next game and staying focused.

“We know we have got the three away games (Brighton, Huddersfield and Reading) in a week and it will be tough, physically and mentally. We are confident and we know what we have to do – but it is all about this home game with Bristol City first.”