Steve Bruce reveals why he left Joe Willock out of his Newcastle United starting XI

Steve Bruce has spoken about his decision to leave Joe Willock out of his starting XI.

Monday, 5th April 2021, 9:43 am

Willock, on loan from Arsenal, came off the bench to claim a hard-fought point for Newcastle United from yesterday’s 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur.

The result left the relegation-threatened club three points above third-bottom Fulham, with a game in hand, ahead of next weekend’s game against Burnley at Turf Moor.

Bruce, under intense pressure following a run of two wins from 20 games in all competitions, had made six changes for the Tottenham game – and surprisingly named Willock as a substitute.

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Joe Willock.
Joe Willock.

Asked about his decision to start the midfielder on the bench, United’s head coach said: “He’s only young, and he’s played six or seven on the bounce.

"I just thought with Sean (Longstaff), who’s waited a long time for a chance. There were some big calls. I’m sure there were a few raised eyebrows before it, like there normally is. But this is what I’m paid for, to make decisions.

"Thankfully, to come on as a sub was the right one, because he got us as a result, which was very pleasing.”

Reflecting on the game, Willock said: “Yeah, it was big. I thought the boys played really well. When we were behind, I thought it was a bit harsh, so I’m happy to make a big impact like that.

“As a group of players, collectively we’re all here to fight for each other. If we play like we did today, then we’ll have no problems staying in this league.”

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