Steve Bruce responds to suggestions that his Newcastle United squad is weaker than last season

Steve Bruce has squashed suggestions that his Newcastle United squad is weaker than last season.

The Magpies have signed just one senior player this summer with Joe Willock joining on a permanent basis in a deal worth up to £25million from Arsenal.

Willock, 22, was the United head coach’s number one target following his remarkable loan spell last term that saw him fire eight goals in 14 matches.

Although Bruce has kept near enough the same starting XI that surged to a 12th place finish, fringe players such as Andy Carroll and Florian Lejeune have been let go and not replaced.

Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce. (Photo by Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images)

With that in mind, Newcastle’s squad depth is smaller to some extent but Bruce, who was keen to sign a central defender this summer, does not feel any worse off.

“I don't know, is it weaker? It is the same,” he said.

“I don't think we are any weaker. It is fair to say we have gone with the same squad we finished last season with, which finished really strongly.

“We went all out to get Joe Willock. So that's where we are at the moment. I’d love to bring some more in, but we simply can't.

“We have to get on with it. And hope we are strong enough to better what we did last year.”

Having finished the last campaign strongly with just two defeats in their remaining nine matches, Newcastle’s form has failed to carry over into the new season.

Bruce’s side have lost both of their opening top-flight games against West Ham United and Aston Villa.

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