DeAndre Yedlin credits his current manager and former teammate for accelerating his growth as a defender.
Newcastle's DeAndre Yedlin has hailed both manager Rafa Benitez and ex-Tottenham teammate Kyle Walker for improving his game - especially in a tactical sense.
Having become a regular at St James' Park, the American dynamo has always impressed going forward during his time in England - but his newfound defensive-discipline is arguably his largest improvement in the past few years.
Spending time as an understudy to Kyle Walker at Spurs, Yedlin struggled to break through into the first team, making just the one appearance. However, speaking to ESPN, Yedlin understood the learning process, despite the lack of game time:
"Every day in training I tried to absorb what I could from him," Yedlin said. "Not really in terms of just speaking with him, but just watching him, watching how he plays, watching where he is positionally, watching when he gets forward."
Following his time at Spurs, Yedlin was loaned out to Sunderland - managed by Sam Allardyce at the time. It was during this spell that Yedlin hugely improved defensively, but the 24-year-old has hailed Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez as the main influence behind his performances:
"It's a very physical league. It's a league that if you lose focus for even a little bit of time, they can punish you. Working with Rafa has taken my game to another level. Everybody tells me they don't know how I have so much energy, and I think people feed off that, which is great."
Having missed the opening four games of the season due to a hamstring injury, Yedlin has recovered well and gone on to be one of Newcastle's best players thus far. With defensive solidarity so key in the bottom half of the table - Yedlin's abilities could prove to be crucial as Newcastle look to survive in the Premier League.