Newcastle boss Eddie Howe saluted his supporting cast after seeing a much-changed team edge past Manchester City and into the Carabao Cup fourth round.
Howe left out 10 of the men who started Sunday’s 8-0 Premier League romp at Sheffield United for Wednesday night’s clash with the treble winners, yet saw them emerge with a hard-fought 1-0 victory.
He reserved particular praise for central defenders Paul Dummett and Jamaal Lascelles, with the former, who has been at the club since the age of nine, turning in a dogged display in his first appearance since August last year.
Howe said: “I thought Paul was absolutely outstanding. When you see him behind the scenes every day, his commitment to Newcastle, the professionalism that he shows, his standards have been exemplary since I’ve been here.
“That’s why I was so determined to keep him in the summer – and he can still play an important role on the pitch.
“He’s got real experience and a really good defensive mindset. I thought him and Jamaal, the pair of them, were really, really good for us and I’m delighted that we showed that strength in our back line because it’s going to be hugely important this season.”
The 32-year-old Geordie was part of a team in which only keeper Nick Pope kept his place from the weekend, while there were first starts for summer signings Tino Livramento and Lewis Hall and 17-year-old midfielder Lewis Miley.
City were dominant before the break, but created few genuine chances other than a Julian Alvarez strike which was blocked by Pope, and opposite number Stefan Ortega had to be equally resilient to keep out Jacob Murphy’s attempt as the half-time whistle approached.
However, the introduction of Bruno Guimaraes and Anthony Gordon at the break gave the Magpies a better balance.
They took the lead through Alexander Isak’s 53rd-minute goal and never really looked like surrendering it as Pep Guardiola turned to his bench, but left Erling Haaland sitting on it.
Newcastle now face a reunion with their conquerors in last season’s final, Manchester United, at Old Trafford in the fourth round as they attempt to deal with the competing demands of a schedule which includes Champions League football for the first time in 20 years.
However, asked if victory over competition favourites City might change his priorities, Howe said: “I don’t think we’re looking too far ahead.“We can only look at what’s in front of us and try to continue the good form that we’re in. Then when this competition comes around again, we’ll give it our full focus.
“The preparation for today was the same as any other game. Yes, we rotated the team, but we felt that was a necessity. We still wanted to win the game.”
Isak, who limped off with a tight calf muscle shortly after scoring, will be assessed ahead of Saturday’s league clash with Burnley.