Steve Bruce reveals why he hasn't made more changes to his Newcastle United starting XI

Steve Bruce says the Premier League’s hectic restart schedule has taken a toll on his team – as he’s not been able to rotate his players.
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Newcastle United, held to a goalless draw by Brighton and Hove Albion on last night, are 13th in the table ahead of Sunday’s final game of the season at home to Liverpool.

Bruce’s team played nine games in a gruelling 30-day period following last month’s restart.

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Speaking after the Brighton game, Bruce said: “I’ve said it many times – fair play to them. They worked tirelessly behind the scenes to get the games at this stage and get the season finished.

"However, we’re now at July 20. It’s been a long, long, difficult year. I have to say, after lockdown, 10 games in 35 days is a huge ask.”

Bruce, hit by injuries in recent weeks, has used the likes of Valentino Lazaro, Yoshinori Muto and Matty Longstaff sparingly since the restart.

United’s head coach admitted after the Brighton game that Lazaro, signed on loan from Inter Milan in January, would be “disappointed” at his lack of game time at the club.

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Muto, meanwhile, is set for talks over his future, and Longstaff, out of contract at the end of the season, hasn’t started a Premier League game since January.

Valentino Lazaro, left, Emil Krafth and Matty Longstaff at Vicarage Road.Valentino Lazaro, left, Emil Krafth and Matty Longstaff at Vicarage Road.
Valentino Lazaro, left, Emil Krafth and Matty Longstaff at Vicarage Road.

Bruce, however, suggested at the Amex Stadium that had he made more restart changes, it would have adversely affected his team.

"We haven’t got the ability to rotate and leave (out) five or six,” said Bruce. “It would affect us.

"All in all, they’ve done fantastically well, the players. If we’re realistic, we’ve been safe since we beat Southampton (before the lockdown). It seems three years ago, never mind six months ago or whatever it was. All credit to them. We’ve done OK. We’ll keep improving, but we’ve done OK.”

Newcastle are without a win in their last five games.

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On the Brighton result, Bruce said: “Considering the (injury) problems we’ve had, to have six centre-halves on the books and five of them injured is quite unique itself, plus our two midfield players, and we haven’t got the ability to rotate and be as effective, overall I was delighted.”