Steve Bruce has a welcome extra option at Newcastle United

There aren’t too many positives at Newcastle United right now.

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 12:42 pm

The club, which only signed one senior player in the summer’s transfer window, is winless, and 18th in the Premier League, ahead of Saturday’s game against Watford at Vicarage Road – and there have already been calls from fans for Steve Bruce to go.

There’s also seemingly no end in sight for the long-running takeover saga.

Bruce, for his part, can only hope to end the club’s wait for a win.

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United’s head coach will need all the help he can get over the coming weeks and months, to that end, he watched the club’s Under-23s take on Stoke City on mild autumnal night at Whitley Park.

The Premier League 2 game, watched by a modest crowd of 202, ended in defeat – a series of second-half errors saw Stoke, inspired by D'Margio Wright-Phillips, come from behind to win 3-2 – but there was one positive for Bruce, who was in attendance along with summer loan signing Santiago Munoz.

Elliot Anderson played 90 minutes on his return from a long-term injury – and the dynamic teenager, yet again, caught the eye.

Speaking after the game, the midfielder said: “It felt good. I haven’t played a game for about four months now, so it was good to be back out there, running around and trying to help the team.

Elliot Anderson in action last season.

“It’s good for my confidence playing my first 90 (minutes), and now it’s just about pushing on and getting my fitness levels back to how they were.”

Anderson, from Whitley Bay, is playing catch-up with his fitness, having missed the club’s pre-season because of a hip injury. However, Anderson – who made his first-team debut last season after being promoted to Bruce’s senior squad – was still a threat whenever he had the ball in the opposition half.

The 18-year-old, wearing the captain’s armband, converted a first-half penalty, and he also tested visiting goalkeeper Nathan Broome after the break.

It was a quick refresher for Bruce, who handed Anderson his debut in an FA Cup tie against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in January.

“I’m just trying to impress like I used to, and refresh his memory of what I can do,” said Anderson, who signed a long-term contract at United late last season.

“I’m trying to improve the little things like my touches and stuff as I’m playing more and more.

"It (the injury) couldn’t have come at a worse time, but it is what it is.” Elliot said. I’ve just got to keep working – and trying to break through.”

Bruce needs a player like that, and it’s up to Anderson, a natural No.10, to convince Bruce – who also got another look at 18-year-old midfielder Joe White in a competitive game – and his staff that he’s ready for another first-team opportunity after a frustrating 140-day spell on the sidelines.

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