Miguel Almiron can fill Ryan Fraser void

Ryan Fraser has been a positive influence and mainstay under Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe, which is why the hamstring injury he sustained against Wolves last week will come as a major blow to the Magpies faithful.

On the Scotsman’s injury, Howe said: “It looks like a hamstring issue. I don’t know how serious it is, but it was obviously enough to bring him off the pitch today, which is a huge blow with the form that he’s been in.”

Opportunity knocks for Almiron

Fortunately for the Magpies boss, he can now count upon Miguel Almiron, who came on in place of the injured Fraser and put in an impressive performance last Friday, having created the only key chance of the game in his 77 minutes on the pitch.

The 28-year-old – who has been described as “unbelievable” by sports writer Charlie Bennett – received even higher praise from his manager, who was encouraged by his efforts against the Old Gold.

On the Paraguayan’s performance, Howe said: “I thought Miggy did really well. Miggy has been away on international duty, then he was ill, so we haven’t seen a great deal of him. But never doubt him physically. Despite the fact that he hasn’t trained with us a great deal, I backed him physically to play that time, and the energy and pressing that Miggy gives you is a real weapon.”

High praise from the boss, but in fairness everything that Howe said is the truth. In terms of a pressing asset, Almiron has proven himself to be one of the best amongst positionally similar players in Europe’s top 5 leagues across the last 365 days. His average of 5.3 pressures in the attacking third per 90 place him in the 94th percentile, according to FBRef.

Perhaps even more impressively given his position on the pitch, his average of eight pressures in the defensive third places him in the 84th percentile, as he occupies an attacking position and tracks back tremendously. It demonstrates his versatility and ability to act as a team player, which is of course a welcome attribute for any coach.

The £74k-p/w Paraguayan’s 2.5 touches per game in the opponents’ penalty box once again sets him apart and further demonstrates his ability to fill the void left by Fraser.

The injury to the Scotland international is of course unfortunate, but Newcastle’s depth in that area of the pitch with the likes of Almiron to call upon has softened the blow. It’s now time for Howe to place his trust in the industrious 28-year-old.

In other news – Howe could land NUFC’s new Waddle as PIF plot bid for “unbelievable” 115-goal machine

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