Steve Bruce briefed on behind-the-scenes Covid-19 changes at Newcastle United

Steve Bruce and his players must get used to more restrictive Covid-19 regulations – as the Premier League attempts to play on through the pandemic.

Monday, 18th January 2021, 4:45 pm

Newcastle United were hit by a coronavirus outbreak late last year – and players are still struggling with the after-effects.

The outbreak forced the postponement of a fixture against Aston Villa – and more clubs have since been hit by Covid-19.

And Bruce – who suggested earlier this month that it was “morally wrong” for the Premier League to continue amid spiking cases – has been consulted on new protocols that are aimed at limited the spread of any training ground outbreaks.

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"I know how difficult to handle players and staff who have had it,” said United's head coach, speaking ahead of tonight’s Premier League game against Arsenal.

“They are absolutely goosed, some of them. That becomes the problem I’m faced with – it’s a difficult thing to manage.

“All of a sudden now the canteen is closing. We might be thinking about dressing rooms to close again (as they did for the Premier League's restart last summer).

“We can’t have a team meeting. We can’t have a video analysis meeting. We can’t do this, we can’t do that. It becomes very, very difficult.

Steve Bruce.

"The most difficult thing for me, not the protocols, is we were struck down a month ago – and we’re still suffering. We have still got our best player (Allan Saint-Maximin) arguably struggling with it, and it’s been seven or eight weeks.

“We’e got people like Feddy (Fernandez), arguably the best pro we’ve got on our books, struggling with it – still. That’s the difficult thing, that people don’t understand.

"Most people are OK, but some aren’t and it becomes very difficult. The captain (Jamaal Lascelles), for example couldn’t raise a leg at 45 minutes against Arsenal. He was in a state.

"It’s been a difficult situation – and that’s what I get down with. It’s not just as straightforward as you’re getting tested and you’re positive, or you’re isolating for five days and you’re all right.”

Asked if he wanted the Premier League to have a break, Bruce said: "I’m lucky and fortunate enough that I can go to work today, whereas most people are shut away. I will go with whatever.”

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