Steve Bruce explains Matty Longstaff decision at Newcastle United

Matty Longstaff gave Steve Bruce a “reminder” of his talent at the Etihad Stadium.

Sunday, 27th December 2020, 4:45 pm

The Newcastle United midfielder was handed a surprise start in last night’s 2-0 defeat to Manchester City.

Longstaff – who missed the start of the season with a thigh injury – had only played 29 minutes of Premier League football before the game, which was decided by goals from Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres.

However, the 20-year-old, despite his lack of match fitness, was one of United’s better performers against Pep Guardiola’s side.

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“He gave a performance which reminded me of why I put him in the team last year,” said head coach Bruce, who addressed what he described as the “mass hysteria” which followed his team’s Carabao Cup defeat to Brentford after the game.

“He’s obviously had a really, really difficult time in terms of a thigh injury which he really couldn’t shake off. He broke down twice, three times with it, and then he had a case of not being right in himself.

"He’s had to wait patiently. We bided our time with him to make sure he is physically right. He lost a lot of weight during the lockdown for whatever reason. Thankfully he’s got that back, and he’s reminded us what a good player he is.”

Meanwhile, City manager Guardiola was pleased with his team’s performance, having previously watched them “struggle” against United.

Matty Longstaff.

"In the last seasons, we’ve struggled against Newcastle, but here we controlled everything,” said Guardiola. “I don’t know how many millions of passes we had, but that is the way we want to play, picking the right moment to attack.”

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