Steve Bruce considers his options at Newcastle United
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Bruce’s side restarted their campaign following an enforced three-month break due to the coronavirus pandemic with a 3-0 behind-closed-doors win over Sheffield United at St James’s Park yesterday.
The fixture is followed by a home game against Aston Villa tomorrow night and an FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester City at St James’s Park on Sunday.
Newcastle have a demanding fixture list – the Premier League and FA Cup need to be completed by the start of August – and Bruce will rotate his squad over the coming games.
“I based the team on how we looked physically over the last two or three weeks,” said United’s head coach. “Of course, the one thing you’re going to have to do is make changes, whether it’s this Wednesday, Sunday or the following Wednesday.
“We’re going to have to rotate a little bit, and the result gives me that option.
“I said on Friday let’s try and chase down Burnley if we can, and we want to try and finish as strongly as we possibly can. We’ve given ourselves a wonderful platform.
“If somebody had said with eight games to go we’d be two points behind Arsenal, you’d have said that’s not achievable. A bit to do still, but we’re going in the right direction.”
Meanwhile, Dean Smith admits that ahis Villa team face a pivotal week in their survival bid.
They sit second bottom of the Premier League ahead of their visit to St James’s Park after Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Chelsea.
“We feel, despite the result on Sunday, that we’re in a decent place,” said Smith. “We all know that the next two are big games for us and are pivotal in what we do.
“The fact we’ve only got one point out of the two games makes it a really important game. Newcastle had a very good result on Sunday, so we have to make sure that we’re at our best.”