Steve McClaren sees reason to believe in Florian Thauvin
Newcastle head coach Steve McClaren has insisted he will not give up on summer signing Florian Thauvin after seeing signs that he is adapting to the hurly-burly of the Barclays Premier League.
The 22-year-old Frenchman, a £12million acquisition from Marseille, has been unable to force his way into McClaren's plans after struggling with the power and pace of English football, just as compatriot Remy Cabella had done before heading in the opposite direction on loan.
However, Thauvin produced an encouraging cameo performance after being introduced as a second-half substitute in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Aston Villa, and McClaren is hoping there is more to come.
Asked if it is too early to write off the former Bastia and Lille player, the 54-year-old said: "Too soon, too soon.
"I have to say the first game against Northampton [in the Capital One Cup], I thought he was outstanding. 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."
Like Cabella, Thauvin is slight in build and has had to work on his physical strength and presence, and McClaren is convinced the penny has dropped for him in terms of what he needs to do on and off the pitch.
He said: "Funnily enough, I was talking to him today about it. We did some training today and 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."
Thauvin was one of four senior players to join the club during the summer in the first of what McClaren said at the time would be a two or three-window recruitment programme at the start of his reign.
However, the former England boss, who could be without striker Papiss Cisse through injury over the Christmas period, is remaining tight-lipped over what the club may or may not do in the January transfer market.
McClaren said: "Privately behind the scenes, we are planning, but until things happen, we will say nothing.
"To be fair, that is my policy. I don't like speculation that we are going to do this or going to do that. The window is not open, we still have two games before it opens.
"Believe you me, we are talking all the time behind [closed doors]. We don't plan to do anything in public."