Steve McClaren insists it is far “too soon” to write off £12million summer signing Florian Thauvin.
And the Newcastle United head coach has revealed he has seen definite signs of improvement in recent weeks.
The midfielder joined the club from Olympique Marseille in August, in a deal which also saw Remy Cabella head to the Stade Velodrome on a season-long loan.
But aside from a stunning Capital One Cup performance against Northampton Town, Thauvin has failed to live up to the pre-season hype and has spent most of the season on the bench.
McClaren is standing firmly behind the 22-year-old though, who impressed in a sub appearance against Aston Villa on Saturday.
“I have to say first game against Northampton I thought he was outstanding,” said McClaren ahead of the Boxing Day match with Everton at St James’s Park.
“But he has just not kicked on. Some players are like that.
“They give you that then they dip. Some don’t then come. I see definite signs of his adaptation in the last few weeks.
“Certainly in terms of training and certainly on Saturday when he came on.
“He was excellent and there was a previous game, Liverpool at home.
“When you see the things he can do out there, when he puts it all together.”
One accusation thrown at the pacy France Under-21 international is that he is not robust enough for the rough and tumble of the Premier League.
McClaren has spoken with him about that very subject this week, with the former Marseille winger working hard to bulk up in the gym.
And McClaren is hoping Thauvin can build on his cameo against basement side Villa against Everton.
“Funny enough I was talking to him today about it,” added McClaren.
“We did some training today and kind of yeah, he is getting stronger, working harder in the gym.
“Understanding where he needs to keep the ball and where he needs to try things.
“We want them to make an impact when they come on and I thought they did well on Saturday.”