Florian Lejeune was as happy as Miguel Almiron – Speaking on winning return after 259 days absence
It was like Florian Lejeune had never been away.
After a gap of 259 days, the Frenchman was back in the first team.
Excellent in defence as a clean sheet was key to Newcastle’s win over Crystal Palace, his ability on the ball also a big asset, even if it was not shared by some of his teammates further up the pitch yesterday…
Miguel Almiron naturally got all the headlines after the win but as arguably Newcastle’s best defender, Florian Lejeune could be key to the second half of the season.
He picked up a serious ACL knee injury ahead of last (2018/19) season and returned in January of this year, playing 12 games before getting the same injury but with his other knee.
Ironically, it was against Palace in April (see photo above) that a freak incident produced the second serious injury, nice to reverse that 1-0 defeat in April on his return yesterday.
After his 259 days absence, Florian Lejeune declaring: ‘I hope to crack on and keep going. I am very happy today.’
Newcastle are so reliant on their defence and despite stiff competition, the trio of Schar, Fernandez and Lejeune will be the first choice three centre-backs for many fans.
If they can keep the level up at the back and Miguel Almiron can be joined on the goals trail by the other attacking players, Newcastle may just have a winning formula moving forward.
However, at the moment the team are far too reliant on the defence to pick up points and Saturday was no different.
Winning games when creating so little at the other end has been down to a large dose of luck so far, as well as the odd moments of inspiration/quality as we saw from Almiron yesterday.
Florian Lejeune talking to the official club site:
“It has been a really great feeling to be back playing again, especially after these eight month, it has been a lot of hard work.
“I’m very pleased to come back playing – I needed it – and I am very happy to come back with a win. It is a good feeling.
“I have been ready for a while but the team were winning so it was difficult for me to play.
“The other players were doing well but today we had some injuries so it was my turn to play and now I just hope to keep going.
“For me, it was great to just feel a goal at St. James’ again but I’m especially happy for Miggy – he is a player who works very hard every day.
“He was waiting and he deserved to get his goal.”
“Well, I thought about (his comeback match being against Palace) a little bit – it’s such a coincidence.
“But then obviously during the game you don’t think about it. You just focus on the game – it doesn’t matter who the rival is.
“It’s true that here at home it has sometimes been difficult to beat the opposition but when you are not creating attacks you have to keep a clean sheet and work hard in defence and then try to find the opportunity to score a goal.
“It has been like that and that’s a positive. It means the team are building up this momentum in attack.
“I hope to have no more injuries and now I have two new knees, so I am happy about that.
“I hope to crack on and keep going. I am very happy today.”
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 1 Crystal Palace 0 – Saturday 21 December 3pm
Possession was Palace 58%, Newcastle 42%
Total shots were Palace 16 , Newcastle 8
Shots on target were Palace 4, Newcastle 3
Corners were Palace 5, Newcastle 4
Referee: Simon Hooper
Newcastle team v Crystal Palace:
Dubravka, Manquillo, Schar, Lejeune, Fernandez, Dummett (Yedlin 90+2), Hayden (Sean Longstaff 64), Shelvey, Almiron, Joelinton (Gayle 77), Carroll
Darlow, Krafth, Matty Longstaff, Atsu
(A must see as Jeff Stelling and Phil Thompson react to moment when Miguel Almiron scores – Watch/read HERE)
(3 Positives and 3 Negatives from Newcastle 1 Crystal Palace 0 – Read HERE)
(Roy Hodgson says he can’t believe Crystal Palace didn’t win, never mind lose to Newcastle United – Read HERE)
(After first goal in 405 days Miguel Almiron says he is on the Coke tonight to celebrate! – Read HERE)
(Newcastle 1 Crystal Palace 0 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Saturday’s win – Read HERE)
(A message from Miguel Almiron as Steve Bruce raves about him and two other Newcastle stars – Read HERE)
(Watch THAT Miguel Almiron goal here and the official Newcastle 1 Crystal Palace 0 match highlights – Watch HERE)
(Newcastle 1 Crystal Palace 0 and Pat Nevin calls it right on Miguel Almiron! – Read HERE)
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