'I regret it' – Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce reveals anguish at Florian Lejeune injury call

Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce regrets calling on Florian Lejeune to play four games in 11 days on his return from an ACL knee injury.

Saturday, 4th January 2020, 7:00 am
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - JANUARY 01: Florian Lejeune of Newcastle United battles for possession with Ayoze Perez of Leicester City  during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Leicester City at St. James Park on January 01, 2020 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - JANUARY 01: Florian Lejeune of Newcastle United battles for possession with Ayoze Perez of Leicester City during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Leicester City at St. James Park on January 01, 2020 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Having not kicked a ball since the penultimate month of the 2018/19 campaign, Lejeune, fresh from rehab and recovery, was brought into the team against Crystal Palace on December 21, 2019. Due to United’s injury worries in that department the Frenchman was then required to play on December 26, 28 and January 1, 2020.

It proved a bridge too far for the defender, whose two errors gifted Leicester City a comfortable win on New Year's Day.

And Bruce has revealed that he has regrets about the way he handled the situation.

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“I toyed with it (changing Lejeune against Leicester), but with the injuries we had to the other centre halves, it would have meant playing someone out of position,” said Bruce, whose side take on Rochdale in the third round of the FA Cup at lunchtime.

“I didn’t really want to do that and certainly the day before, Flo being Flo, he wanted to play again.

“Look, asking him to play four games in ten days was too much and I regret it, but to have five out of six centre halves unavailable is unheard of. The centre halves are the ones who don’t get injured.”

Lejeune is set to be the only player in United's first-team squad who will be rested at Spotland, with Emil Krafth and Isaac Hayden likely to slot into the Magpies’ back three.