'The best he's played for us' - Could Steve Bruce hand this Newcastle United player a start versus Southampton?

Steve Bruce praised the players that started Newcastle United’s Carabao Cup defeat to Burnley as he weighs up further changes against Southampton.

Friday, 27th August 2021, 6:00 am
Newcastle United midfielder Jeff Hendrick. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Only Freddie Woodman and Jamaal Lascelles survived from the 2-0 defeat at Aston Villa with the likes of Jamal Lewis, Javier Manquillo, Jeff Hendrick and Dwight Gayle handed their first outings of the season.

Bruce admits he was impressed by “a lot of individual players”, despite losing 4-3 in the penalty shootout.

“I was very, very pleased with the way we played,” Bruce admitted.

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“We’re delighted to keep a clean sheet, which we’ve spoken about over the last week or so.

“There were a lot of positives, a lot of individual players who played, very, very well and have done themselves no harm at all in trying to get into the team at the weekend.”

One player who has certainly forced his way into Bruce’s thinking is Hendrick.

The Republic of Ireland international was arguably United’s best player in the cup tie against his former club with an all-round midfield display.

He was comfortable in possession, pressed the Burnley backline and provided an unlikely attacking threat.

Indeed, he should have scored just after the break when Joelinton scuffed a shot into his path but Wayne Hennessey saved from six yards.

Bruce told the Gazette: “It would have been nice to round off the performance he put in with a goal.

“I thought his performance was arguably the best he’s played for us - I thought he was excellent.

“Against his former club, it would have been nice for him to get on the scoresheet.

"He played very well, I was very pleased with him.”

Bruce feels the opening three defeats are harsh on his side, who welcome the Saints to St James’s Park on Saturday.

He added: “We haven’t done a lot wrong even though we haven’t won yet.

“OK, we’ve gone out of the cup but we didn’t lose.

“We’ve seen a few positives and I enjoyed watching us play, I thought we were a threat all night and played some good stuff at times but didn’t get the rub of the green, which you need.

“We just have to keep believing that it’ll turn around. We’ve only been going two weeks so we look forward to the weekend.”

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