Steve Bruce explains Joelinton decision as he addresses Newcastle United 'debate'
Steve Bruce has defended his team selection for Newcastle United’s defeat to Manchester United.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side came from behind to win 4-1 at St James’s Park last night thanks to three late goals.
To make matters worse, Isaac Hayden and Karl Darlow suffered injuries in the behind-closed-doors game.
Bruce had made one change to his starting XI – Jamaal Lascelles returned from injury at the expense Fabian Schar – and named Ryan Fraser and Miguel Almiron on the bench following their exploits during the international break for Scotland and Paraguay respectively.
Joelinton – who had impressed in a withdrawn role behind Callum Wilson in the 3-1 win over Burnley before the break – was moved to the left side of midfield in a 4-1-4-1 formation.
Asked if he’d considered starting with Fraser and Almiron, Bruce said: "The one thing that we've got is that alternative.
"I just thought Joe, Allan (Saint-Maximin) and Callum did very, very well last time out, and, I think, deserved to stay in the team. That's always going to be the debate now. Thankfully, we're in a good position in that area of the pitch. They deserved to get the start."
Darlow had kept Newcastle in the game with a second-half penalty save from Bruno Fernandes, and Bruce's side looked to be heading for a hard-fought point until the visitors, indebted to David de Gea for stopping a Wilson shot, stunned them with a late flurry of goals.
Bruce felt that his team was “naive” in the final few minutes.
"I think the disappointment is that we were a bit naive towards the end, certainly,” said Newcastle’s head coach.
"When you're playing against Man U and have a big chance … Callum had one, and de Gea pulls off a wonder save.
"It might have been a bit different. We were a bit naive towards the end. We left some wide open spaces behind us. We know, with (Marcus) Rashford in particular, if you do that, then it becomes very difficult."
Newcastle are back in action on Sunday when they take on Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux.