Fri 27 Oct 2023, 13:29 · Ash Harrison

‘I rate him highly’: Eddie Howe sings the praises of £15m player following return to action on Wednesday

‘I rate him highly’: Eddie Howe sings the praises of £15m player following return to action on Wednesday
Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via X
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Eddie Howe showed some love to Matt Targett this morning in his pre-match press briefing.

Newcastle United signed Matt Targett from Aston Villa for £15 million last summer following a very successful loan spell in which time he was instrumental in keeping the Magpies in the Premier League.

Unfortunately for the former Southampton man, though, illness and injury kept him out of the first team in the early part of the 2022/23 campaign and Dan Burn was played at left-back in his place. Such was Burn's form in that position, it became tricky for Targett to regain his place in the side.

Targett looked like he could be shown the exit after just a year

Rumours started to swirl that Targett would be sold in the summer, just one year on after signing. That didn't come to pass, however, and the left-back made a good cameo in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

Burn wasn't having the best of games against Borussia Dortmund, so Eddie Howe brought on Targett to give Newcastle more attacking presence down the left. It worked quite well, and it was a delicious set-piece delivery from the substitute that led to Callum Wilson hitting the crossbar.

Discussing Targett this morning ahead of the Wolves clash, Howe made it clear to the gathered reporters that he still rates the left-back highly (quotes via The Chronicle):

“I'm sure it's been difficult for him.

Matt was a regular player for us and did really well in our fight to stay in the Premier League. Then I think he was ill before the Fulham game, we won there, stuck with the team and went on a winning run.

It made it difficult for him to get his place back. Dan [Burn] in his position has been a model of consistency, they're very different players but I rate Matt very highly, I really do, and it was great to see him come on and do so well.

I thought he made a real positive impact to the team's performance and it's great to see.”

Could Burn and Targett rotate depending on the opposition?

It now remains to be seen what this means for Targett in terms of first-team appearances moving forward.

He does offer a fair bit more going forward than Burn, so perhaps in games where we're expected to be more on the front foot, Howe may turn to Targett over the man from Blyth in order to rotate his squad.

Rotating full-backs on a game-by-game basis is nothing new in football, but the head coach has shown that he values consistency of selection in his back four very highly.

We don't know about you, but we'd love to see more of 'Tiggs', as he's affectionately known at the club.