Defender Grant Hanley reveals which teammate makes his job easier at Newcastle United

Grant Hanley.
Grant Hanley.

Playing alongside 'intelligent' Ciaran Clark makes defending easy, according to Newcastle United's Grant Hanley.

The Scotland international was called in to make his first Championship start for the Magpies since the opening day of the season at the weekend and excelled in the 1-0 home win over Derby County.

And while he has taken credit for his performance, which he was afforded due to skipper Jamaal Lascelles picking up a slight groin injury, Hanley is keen to heap praise on his central defensive partner for the day.

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"Playing alongside Ciaran, he is experienced, intelligent and always looking to organise," said former Blackburn Rovers captain Hanley, who put in a no nonsense display against Steve McClaren's Rams.

"That is very important as a centre-back.

Ciaran Clark.

Ciaran Clark.

"For me, it’s nice to get some game-time.

"There are some really top players at this club, so whoever you’re playing with you know you’re playing with a really good player, so it’s really enjoyable."

Having dominated much of the game, Hanley & Co had to withstand a Derby storm towards the end of Saturday's game.

And the defender admits that surviving that barrage from the visitors made the three points and a return to the top of the second tier table all the more sweet.

Grant Hanley pictured while on Scotland duty.

Grant Hanley pictured while on Scotland duty.

"Results like that always feel a bit better when you’ve had to grind it out," he said, speaking to nufc.co.uk.

"We knew it was going to be a tough game – they are a top side, and they have been a top side in the Championship as long as I can remember.

"They were piling the pressure on at the end, playing it a bit longer – which is perhaps not their style of play.

"The manager brought big Jamaal (Lascelles) on, so we had three big centre-halves on who love to head it. We had to show a bit of spirit and character. The atmosphere was not great after the result the other night, so it’s great to bounce back like that.

"The fans here are brilliant – they turn up in their numbers every week – so after a game (like Wednesday’s) it is important to put it right. It’s nice to get the win and be back on the track we want to be on."

The 25-year-old, who will hopeful of keeping his place in United's side for the weekend visit to Wolves, continued: "Perhaps on the back of Wednesday night, the manager wanted us to make sure we were fully concentrated and organised, so we maybe had a wee edge to make sure we were right on it.

"In the first half, we were picking up all of the second balls and we were really on top of the game."

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