Chris Hughton admits Sebastien Bassong's emergence as a genuine first-team regular has come as a real bonus for Newcastle.
The 22-year-old Frenchman joined the Magpies from Metz during the summer after a promising trial, but was not expected to make a significant impact this season.
However, having played his early football at left-back in the absence of Jose Enrique, he has since proved his worth in his more accustomed central defensive role to the extent that he and the ever-present Fabricio Coloccini have established themselves as fixtures in the side.
Hughton said: ''He has been a real find, and it's a real positive. This is a lad who came on a trial basis in the summer.
''In all honesty, we saw something in him, but if you had said to me did I think at this stage of the season he would have played the amount of games he has played, I would have said no.
''It's testament to him. He has looked to work and develop his game and he is reaping the benefits of it.''
Bassong was a rock at the heart of the defence last Sunday as Newcastle staged a determined rearguard action to emerge from their encounter with Everton with a point despite Kevin Nolan's 43rd-minute dismissal.
But Hughton is confident there is much more to come from a man who is blazing a trail for some of the club's other promising young players.
He said: ''If you are a young player like him coming to this club in the circumstances he did and have played the amount of games he has played, there are no negatives.''