DeAndre Yedlin last season had to share the right back position with Vurnon Anita in the Championship.
I always struggled to understand that at the time, as Yedlin gave us so much more than the limited Dutchman.
This season Anita has found he can’t get a game at Leeds United (14 starts, 26 times named on the bench) in the Championship, whereas DeAndre Yedlin has gone from strength to strength.
Still not the finished article and prone to the odd mistake – but he gives Newcastle a lot down that right hand side, both defensively and going forward, with pace his main asset.
After shaking off an early injury, the USMNT international has been pretty much an ever-present, the last 31 Premier League matches seeing him start 29 of them and come off the bench in the other two.
Like the rest of the team, the right back has seen things really come together since early February.
The game against Man Utd saw Dubravka replace Darlow for his debut, whilst Lejeune came in for the injured Ciaran Clark. Since that point the same back five have played all nine matches.
Even with these last two defeats, the team have only conceded eight goals in those nine matches, as the run of form has taken Newcastle to safety.
He turns 25 this July and as well as hitting 50 internationals with his country, DeAndre Yedlin will reach 90 senior games in English football if playing against Watford on Saturday.
Since the days of Jonas Gutierrez and Jose Enrique ended, the stronger partnership, especially going forward, has always tended to be on the right, and that has continued to this day.
Matt Ritchie and DeAndre Yedlin delivered in the Championship and now they have done a pretty good job in the Premier League in difficult circumstances, with a lack of investment hitting the squad.
Yedlin says he always welcomes the competition if new signings arrive and it will be interesting to see where Rafa Benitez makes a priority in his Newcastle team/squad this summer.
The right back though feels he has really bonded with Matt Ritchie and is hoping their partnership will continue.
Ritchie has fund his goalscoring touch in recent weeks and DeAndre Yedlin showed what he is capable of with an excellent run and cross for Ayoze Perez to score against Arsenal.
However, after a goal and five assists last year in half a Championship season, this time it was only the second assist of the season so far against the Gunners.
With a bit more composure and quality like that cross for Perez, the former Spurs player could be a massive asset next season, whatever the competition.
DeAndre Yedlin talking to The Chronicle:
“Matt Ritchie is a great guy to play with because he is so vocal, not just with me but with the whole team.
“He is a very important player for our team, not just for his quality on the ball and his workrate, but for his leadership and the way he forces the best out of you.
“Any time you can build a bond with certain players, you’re always going to get better.
“You get to know the tendencies of the players in certain situations and you can better assess the situation when you’re in one.
“I think we have formed a pretty good backline…
“But there are still things we can improve on and obviously the last two games we have given up goals – but I think at the end of the day I think we have been pretty good.”
“I always welcome competition.
“Without competition you can get too comfortable, and when you get comfortable you can relax and your performance goes down, at least with me.
“Some players may be different, but for me, that’s how I am.
“I love competition – that is the only way to improve.”