Fernandez came off the bench in last night’s 1-1 draw against Norwich City following the ninth-minute dismissal of Ciaran Clark.
And Fernandez – who hadn’t even made the bench for the club’s previous five Premier League games – played his part in a gutsy performance from Howe’s 10-man team at St James’s Park.
"I can’t speak for anyone else, all I can speak is the player that I’ve worked with so far,” said Howe. “He’s been the ultimate professional, a real leader of the group, a respected figure. I think he proved today he’s still an outstanding player, I thought he defended magnificently.
"I haven’t seen too much of Feddy yet. The week that I missed with Covid meant that I had limited training time with the group. But I was delighted to give him his opportunity. I thought Feddy played really, really well.”