The Newcastle United player knows how to play the role and surely deserves a chance given Colback’s struggles.

With Isaac Hayden currently side-lined, the pressure has been on his Newcastle United teammate Jack Colback to perform in his absence, and it is fair to say the latter has fallen well short.

With each passing match, the criticism only increases for a midfielder who appears to bear the brunt of fan dissatisfaction at St. James’ Park. But is Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez ignoring a potentially effective way of withdrawing Colback from the firing line while strengthening his side’s promotion push?

Chancel Mbemba started the season in Newcastle’s first-team but quickly fell out of favour and has hardly been seen since.

While the centre-back positions appear to be well covered, there is an alternative that could see the 22-year-old operate as a holding midfielder – a role he played extremely well for DR Congo during the recent Africa Cup of Nations.

Mbemba has featured regularly further forward for his country but he really came into his own at the recent tournament, providing two assists in four matches and helping his side to a quarter-final against Ghana, which they narrowly lost 2-1.

Given Mbemba’s experience at international level in midfield, bringing him in for Colback would not be a risk so much as a simple change of personnel.

Newcastle need to ensure they remain in the top two between now and May, and brave changes like this could make all the difference.

In other news, Report: Fulham set to sign three-time Premier League winner after Wembley victory