Steve Bruce explains shock Newcastle United selection U-turn

Steve Bruce has revealed how Joe Willock came to line up at Vicarage Road – a day after being ruled out of the game.

Sunday, 26th September 2021, 7:00 am
Newcastle United's Joe Willock during the Premier League match at Vicarage Road, Watford.

The midfielder surprisingly started yesterday’s 1-1 draw against Watford. Bruce had ruled Willock out through a toe injury a day earlier, and Bruce was asked how the 22-year-old had made his starting XI.

“I think it’s important that I try to put our side (across),” said United’s head coach. “He actually kicked the floor on Tuesday, and it was a sore one where we actually thought, the medical people, that he’d maybe done a metatarsal.

“We put him in a boot, because he was sore. And then he’s had a scan, and he’s done something to the bottom of his foot. It’s an impact injury.

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“Joe walked in on Friday, and said he felt much better and wanted to give it a go. So we encouraged him to train, which he did. He came through it, and I thought did very well.”

Willock – who scored eight goals on loan at United last season – was brought down just outside the box in the first half, and he also forced a save from Ben Foster before being taken off.

"It’s a pity he didn’t take one of his chances,” said Bruce, who signed Willock from Arsenal in the summer. “I thought, when I first looked at it, it was a penalty, but unfortunately it wasn’t.”

Winless Newcastle are 17th in the Premier League with three points.

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