Steve Bruce opens up on Sean Longstaff's situation at Newcastle United
Sean Longstaff hasn’t featured for Newcastle United since last month’s defeat at Bramall Lane.
And Longstaff could have to wait some time for his next opportunity at the club, which is 16th in the Premier League ahead of tomorrow’s home game against Southampton.
Longstaff came to prominence in Rafa Benitez’s final season at the club. The midfielder was tipped for England honours during an impressive run in the team which was ended by a season-ending knee injury.
The 21-year-old’s development has slowed over the past 18 months, though Matty, his younger sibling, broke through under Steve Bruce last season after impressing in pre-season and signed a new two-year deal at St James’s Park last summer.
Bruce – who named 18-year-old midfielder Elliot Anderson on his bench ahead of the elder Longstaff brother against Crystal Palace and Everton – was asked about the 23-year-old’s form ahead this term ahead of the Southampton game.
“I’m never going to comment on individual players, but Sean and Matty get highlighted the most because, you know, they’re Newcastle lads,” said Bruce, who signed Joe Willock on loan from Arsenal this week to give himself a “different” option in midfield.
“Unfortunately, he (Sean) has gone up and down too quickly. He’s played well one week, and not so well the next. He’s got to find that consistently. He’s only a young lad, and it happened for him very, very quickly.
"He’s got to get on with it, and deal with the situation he’s in, and roll up his sleeves and get back in the team.”
Matty Longstaff missed the start of the campaign with a calf injury, but he impressed over the festive period after being recalled against Manchester City on Boxing Day, but the 20-year-old hasn’t featured in the club’s last four games.
Instead, Bruce has started Jonjo Shelvey, Isaac Hayden and Jeff Hendrick in midfield.
“With the two Longstaff brothers, it’s the same as any other midfield player too,” said Bruce. “We’ve got competition for places. That’s got to be part and parcel of a very, very good squad.
"At the end of the day now, we’ve had too many disappointing performances as a team, which has led to different changes.
"So it’s quite simple for me. You play well, the team picks itself, like it did the other night for example. We did so well against Everton, and the (players) deserved to stay in the team.
"So they have to roll up their sleeves and get prepared for competition for places, which is always healthy.”
Meanwhile, Willock, 21, could make his debut against Southampton after training with his new team-mates this week.
“Yeah, he’ll be involved,” said Bruce. “He’s trained with us two or three days. He’s a little bit different to what we’ve got. He wants to get forward and get a goal.
“We were a little bit samey, if that’s the right word. He’ll bring a freshness to our midfield.”