FOR most of the last three months, Fabian Schar has watched Newcastle United’s season unravel from the sidelines. An experienced Switzerland international, with almost 50 senior caps to his name, the 26-year-old was left frustrated as Rafael Benitez looked elsewhere for defensive talent.

He started the 2-1 home defeat to Chelsea, but the following weekend, at Manchester City, he was back on the bench, reverting to his former role as an unused substitute.

For the next seven games, the story stayed the same. Schar didn’t play; Newcastle didn’t win. But on Saturday, both things changed.

Schar came off the bench after Jamaal Lascelles’ shoulder injury prevented him from playing in the second half of the Magpies’ game with Watford; Newcastle claimed their first victory of the season as Ayoze Perez glanced home a second-half header.

Coincidence? Possibly. But with Schar’s appearance having resulted in a much-improved defensive display that saw Newcastle restrict Watford to a handful of second-half opportunities, as opposed to the hatful of chances they created before the break, the 26-year-old has provided Benitez with quite a selection dilemma if Lascelles proves his fitness before the weekend.

“It’s been difficult for me,” said Schar, who joined Newcastle from Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna in the summer. “Every player wants to play. It’s normal, but you have a lot of players in the team.

“It’s normal sometimes that you have difficult times, and for me, the last months were difficult. I came here new, trying to help the team. I couldn’t help the team. Now, I’m hoping there will come some better times for the team and also me.”

Schar’s prospects of starting against Bournemouth could well hinge on Lascelles’ availability, with the skipper having suffered a recurrence of a shoulder problem that first reared its head in training last week.

However, even if Lascelles is passed fit, there is an argument that Schar’s comfort in possession merits an extended run in the team. Neither Lascelles nor Federico Fernandez looks especially comfortable striding out of the back four, but playing with the ball at his feet has always been a key part of Schar’s game. In an era when defenders are increasingly expected to be the instigators of an attack, might Newcastle benefit from fielding a ball-playing centre-half?

“I’m just trying to do my best, like I always do in training,” said Schar, who also showcased the physical side of his game as he tussled with Watford striker Isaac Success at the weekend. “I’m trying to show my qualities all the time in training.

“You always have to be ready because you never know what might happen. Lascelles had some problems with his shoulder. It can happen in every game, so you have to be ready.”

Having played for the whole of the second half, Schar was able to join in some jubilant post-match scenes as Newcastle celebrated their first success of the season.

The win lifted them out of the relegation zone, underlining just how tight things are in the bottom half of the table despite the club’s stuttering start.

Another win over Bournemouth could see Newcastle leapfrog the likes of Crystal Palace and Burnley, clubs that have not really been mentioned as part of the relegation mix, but who could easily find themselves sucked in to the bottom three.

Roy Hodgson and Sean Dyche will be nervously looking over their shoulder after suffering heavy defeats at the weekend, but having come through a series of extremely difficult fixtures, Newcastle’s sights are being trained up the league.

“It was a massive win for the whole team,” said Schar. “We waited too long - the whole season - to get three points. Getting the win now, it was a perfect game for us.

“When you see our faces after the 90 minutes, you could see it was a massive win. We had to wait a long time for the first win of the season, so it was massive for all of us - the whole club and the fans. Now, we have to keep going.”