Ryan Fraser badly let Steve Bruce down as Newcastle United lost 2-1 at home to Leeds United on Tuesday night.
Bruce recalled the ex-AFC Bournemouth maestro to his starting line-up for the visit of the Whites to St. James’ Park, having benched Fraser following his mindless sending off for two yellow cards in the space of three minutes at Sheffield United earlier in the month.
But the Toon boss would only be made to regret his decision to field the £11m-rated lightweight, as Fraser ghosted from wing to wing and was immediately upstaged by Allan Saint-Maximin after the Frenchman’s introduction for Jacob Murphy early in the second-half.
Should Fraser have started vs Leeds?
Yes, he needs to play
No, he’s been awful
Fraser began the midweek meeting fielded centrally in behind top-scorer Callum Wilson before being shifted onto the left for the second period, with Miguel Almiron tasked with bringing life to the Magpies after a shoddy opening 45 minutes.
Newcastle looked a much more inspired unit with Almiron linking up well with Wilson and Jonjo Shelvey in a marauding trio, resulting in the Paraguayan netting his second goal of the Premier League season to strike Newcastle’s initial equaliser.
Fraser was again on the move following the introduction of Saint-Maximin with the Scotland international moved over to the right, yet was eventually hauled off entering the final quarter of an hour after only managing to offer a peripheral figure.
Midfielder Jeff Hendrick was also fortunate not to see his number shown after yet another uninspiring performance from the Republic of Ireland international, who proved to be an anonymous part of Newcastle’s 2-0 defeat at Aston Villa over the weekend yet retained his place in the starting line-up.
But Bruce could be questioned for leaving Fraser on the field for too long after the £42,000-per-week winger’s apologetic efforts, that saw the 26-year-old take just 31 touches – only Karl Darlow (19), Wilson (20) and Murphy (28) saw less of the ball during Fraser’s time on the field of those who started in black and white, per WhoScored.
Fraser was far from a safe pair of hands in possession, either, with the 14-time international completing only 81% of his 17 passes and losing the ball on 10 occasions, far below his usual standards of losing possession 5.7 times a game as Leeds regularly were gifted possession, per SofaScore.
His two shots never truly tested Illan Meslier in the visitor’s goal, too, as Fraser’s first-team effort from the edge of the box late in the first-half was fired sky high before seeing a stoppage-time strike blocked.
Fraser’s ability to strike a dead ball with precision meant he was able to leave the field with two key passes to his name – only Shelvey (4) and Almiron (3) had created more by the 77th-minute – but it was from open play that he left Newcastle wanting more. Much more.
AND in other news, Steve Bruce must axe an £8m-rated total dud holding Newcastle back…