It tends to be the case that homegrown players get a harder time from supporters, and Paul Dummett is no exception. Over the years, the fanbase have been justifiably critical of some of his performances, but he has always come through the difficulties he has faced in his career.
You don`t appreciate players until they are gone and our No.3s hamstring injuries has left a gaping hole and his return is so welcomed.
Rafa employed Javier Manquillo, Jesus Gamez, and even Chancel Mbemba at one point on the left hand side in order to find a replacement for him, but it was clear the team was missing the stable presence of the Welsh international.
The signing of Kenedy in January could have relegated the 26-year-old to second choice at left back. The Brazilian spent most of his time at Chelsea playing either full back or as a wing back, so it was easy to assume that he may be providing competition for the Newcastle star. Yet it seems Rafa has absolute faith in the player.
After a couple of games on the bench after his return to full fitness, he returned to the starting XI for the defeat to Manchester City in late December. Since then, has only failed to start one league match.
The trust our manager has in the defender was demonstrated further still when the player was given a new contract last week, and I think it`s high time that we give Paul some much overdue praise. In the games, he has started following his return to the team, we have conceded just eight times, averaging one goal a game. It`s a stark contrast to when he is absent from the starting line up.
In 21 matches where the full back has not featured or has started on the bench, we have conceded 33 times, which is an average of 1.57 goals. Although this disparity may close as he plays more matches between now and the end of the season, we have more defensive solidity with him is in the side.
Dummett is an integral member of the first team eleven, but in some senses, he is an unsung hero in our squad. He`s always relied upon by our manager, and despite having faced competition for his place from a number of new signings over the years, as always preferred in time.