Steve Bruce explains Newcastle United team selection

Steve Bruce has revealed the thinking behind his team selection against Rotherham United.

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 6:00 am

Newcastle United drew 1-1 with the League One club at the AESSEAL New York Stadium on Tuesday night thanks to a late header from Jeff Hendrick, who had been pushed up front following the withdrawals of Callum Wilson and Dwight Gayle.

Matt Ritchie – who missed last week’s win over Doncaster Rovers with a minor injury – was also played out of position as a right wing-back.

“I didn’t have strikers (after Wilson and Gayle went off),” said Bruce. “I played Matt Ritchie out of position, because I needed him to have minutes, because he missed the other night.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

"It was an exercise to get him 60 minutes. But the rest, they all played their positions, apart from Jeff Hendrick as an emergency centre-forward.”

Rotherham dominated the first 30 minutes, and Bruce, again, felt there were some “tired bodies” on his team.

“The first half hour, we were nowhere near what’s required but we’ve worked a lot, over the last couple of days,” said United’s head coach.

“We weren’t really looking for any performances or anything like that. I’m just trying to build a fitness level into them. We knew that after the game the other night, and since then we’ve put into the them as well, so it’s evident that there was a few tired bodies.

Steve Bruce.

“As I’ve said all along, it’s about getting players ready and having minutes. The accumulation of minutes is vitally important to ourselves to (Jamaal) Lascelles, Isaac Hayden and Ryan Fraser, in particular, because obviously they were missing for six weeks previous."

A message from the Football Clubs Editor

Our aim is to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative Newcastle United coverage 365 days a year.

This depth of coverage costs, so to help us maintain the high-quality reporting that you are used to, please consider taking out a subscription; sign up here.

Your support is much appreciated. Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor