Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez has hailed French defender Florian Lejeune following a difficult first season on Tyneside.
Lejeune joined Newcastle in an £8.7m deal from Eibar last season, but has had a stop-start beginning to his Premier League career, his debut on the opening day of the season was blighted by an injury which caused him to be substituted within just 33 minutes.
Speaking to the Shields Gazette, Benitez commented on the 26 year-old's injury problems: "I think he is doing really well and I, at the same time, feel he has been really unlucky, which isn’t something I think a lot of people realise.
"I was talking with Antonio [Gomez, Newcastle’s first-team coach] about this and about when Florian was at Girona and Eibar. He had no injuries in Spain. He was always playing – every game."
Newcastle fans wouldn't get to see their new centre-back in action after his debut until October. Lejeune managed to become an ever-present in Benitez's side, striking up a good defensive partnership with teammate Jamaal Lascelles. However, rotten luck struck again when the former French under-20 international was sidelined for two months following an injury in training.
Benitez added: “Then, for us, in the first game against Tottenham, one bad tackle, a big problem, and since then he had a couple of months before kicking a ball during a tackle with Ayoze, and there’s another injury."
Despite injury problems in his first season in a new league, Benitez seems to be happy with the progress of Lejeune and is giving him the adaption period required: "So he has been really unlucky for someone who is coming here; a new centre-back, someone who needs to know what it means to be involved in the physicality of the Premier League."