Steve Bruce opens up about Joe Willock decision as Newcastle United drop a place

Joe Willock was almost left on Newcastle United’s bench last weekend.

Sunday, 14th February 2021, 8:00 am
Updated Sunday, 14th February 2021, 8:00 am

The midfielder, signed on a half-season loan from Arsenal on transfer deadline day, scored 16 minutes into his debut for the relegation-threatened club against Southampton.

However, Steve Bruce had been considering naming the 21-year-old, signed to add “something different” to his midfield options, as a substitute ahead of the Premier League game.

“I’m delighted, because we were thinking ‘do we put him on the bench this week?’,” said United’s head coach. “Then we thought ‘we brought him here to play – let the kid go and play’.

Joe Willock, right, celebrates his goal against Southampton.

“To score after 15 minutes, he’ll remember his debut. It’s the quickest goal by anybody on his debut. It’s great for him. You can see what he brings us, something different, a little bit of a threat going forward, score a goal, and got the ability to get up and down the pitch, which is great – and a big bonus.

"The one thing you want to do is play well on your debut. It was a great piece of skill from Allan (Saint-Maximin) to get to the byline and pick him out. It was a classic midfield player’s goal. That’s what he’s brought us. He goes box to box, he’s a terrific athlete."

Willock and his team-mates are preparing for tomorrow night’s game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Midfielders Sean and Matty Longstaff have not featured for Newcastle in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, United dropped down to 17th place after yesterday’s results. The club is 10 points above third-bottom Fulham, who have a game in hand over Bruce's side.

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