Eddie Howe would have preferred to have left Jonjo Shelvey on the bench against Tottenham Hotspur - but felt Newcastle United needed him.
The Magpies midfielder made his first appearance of the Premier League season after being introduced as an 89th-minute substitute for Bruno Guimaraes.
Shelvey picked up a hamstring injury in pre-season and was forced to undergo surgery in August. After flying through his recovery, the 30-year-old has been a part of the matchday squad against Manchester United, Everton and Spurs.
Howe turned to the former Liverpool man in North London to help see out the remaining six minutes and secure a huge 2-1 win that moved United up to fourth in the top-flight table.
“It was really pleasing,” Howe said on Shelvey’s cameo appearance. “I didn’t want to bring him on the pitch to be honest as he hasn’t had a huge amount of training.
“I wouldn’t say I took a risk (by bringing him on), I just wanted to protect him and give him a little bit longer to continue his rehab. The time was right to introduce him, the team needed him and I think he did really well.”
Shelvey will target further minutes with Aston Villa, Southampton and Chelsea, plus Crystal Palace in the Carabao Cup, before the season pauses for the Qatar World Cup next month.