JOHN Carver paid tribute to Jonas Gutierrez after the winger made an emotional comeback for Newcastle United.
Gutierrez came off the bench in last night’s 1-0 defeat to Manchester United at St James’s Park.
It was the 31-year-old’s first appearance for the club since being given the all-clear after treatment for testicular cancer in his native Argentina.
Gutierrez was roared on to the pitch, where he was handed the captain’s armband by close friend and countryman Fabricio Coloccini.
Newcastle head coach Carver insisted Gutierrez – who replaced Ryan Taylor at left-back – was not put on out of “sentiment”, but because he had earned his chance on the training field.
“I was a bit concerned because obviously he (Taylor) hasn’t played at this level for a while,” said Carver. “He has been out a long time, and I was just concerned a little bit that he was blowing.
“I asked Jonas if he could go in there, because I know he has played left-back on a number of occasions, and he said ‘absolutely’.
“But Jonas going on wasn’t a sentimental decision, it was a football decision and it was the right decision.”
Gutierrez’s 65th-minute introduction lifted the crowd.
Carver added: “It was great – maybe I should have started him because all of a sudden, the crowd came alive, didn’t they?
“It was great. He has worked extremely hard behind the scenes, in the gym, tirelessly for hours, working hard, coming back from what he’s come back from and getting the opportunity to come on to the pitch.
“It just shows you what the fans think of him because the roof nearly came off the stadium, which was nice.”