Ciaran Clark came off the bench to seal Newcastle’s 2-1 come from behind win over Bournemouth on Saturday, much to the delight of his boss Steve Bruce.
The Republic of Ireland defender has struggled to nail down a starting place this season, with Bruce insisting that the strength of the Magpies’ squad has left him with selection headaches.
“The one thing you want is competition,” Bruce said after the game at St James’ Park.
“There were times when I didn’t pick him (Clark) in the squad.
“Like today – I’m leaving out people like (Javi) Manquillo, who’s done nothing wrong, (Yoshinori) Muto, who’s done nothing wrong.
“It’s the difficult part of it. All you can say to them is, ‘Take your chance’, and Ciaran is the prime example of it. He’s done remarkably well coming from nowhere. I’m delighted for him.
“He trains every day, works hard every day, great pro and when you see somebody getting the winner like he did from where he was probably six weeks ago not travelling with us, fair play to him.”
Newcastle fell behind in the 14th minute to a superbly worked corner routine from Bournemouth, which culminated with Harry Wilson rifling home.
The hosts drew level just before the break. However, it needed a VAR check to confirm that right wing-back DeAndre Yedlin had managed to stay onside before launching a diving header to the net.
And Clark secured all three points for Bruce’s men when he was on hand to toe-poke home from close range in the 52nd minute.
Bruce was particularly happy with the nature of the win, with his side having to dig deep to overcome conceding an early goal and losing captain Jamaal Lascelles to injury in the first half.
“I was especially happy today because we didn’t have it our own way,” Bruce said.
“I always thought we were a threat and that’s important to see.”
Newcastle have taken 10 points from their last five games. This improved run of form has lifted them to 11th in the table, and has eased the fears of relegation that surrounded the club after a dismal start to the season.