This is a worrying development at Newcastle United

Happy New Year? Not at St James’s Park.

Wednesday, 1st January 2020, 4:57 pm

Newcastle United lost more than just three points in this afternoon’s 3-0 defeat to Leicester City.

Steve Bruce also lost four players – Jonjo Shelvey, Fabian Schar, Jetro Willems and Javier Manquillo – to injury. When will they be back? All of a sudden the club’s squad is looking very patchy ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Rochdale.

Bruce had pledged to attack the cups after taking charge in the summer, but can he now afford to field a strong team at Spotland after three successive Premier League defeats?

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Certainly, Newcastle could be back in trouble if their losing run continues, and the performance of Florian Lejeune, culpable for Leicester’s first two goals, was worrying.

Bruce, United’s head coach, had handed Yoshinori Muto a surprise start, while Manquillo also returned to the starting XI.

Martin Dubravka – who had gone into the game having made more saves than any other Premier League goalkeeper – twice denied Jonny Evans from an early corner. He was busy throughout the game.

United’s first opportunity fell to Joelinton in the 26th minute. Jonjo Shelvey, again wearing the captain’s armband, sent him free with a ball over the top, but Caglar Soyuncu did enough to put him off as he shaped up to shoot. Joelinton missed with a second attempt.

James Maddison pats Fabian Schar on the head as he walks off injured.

Lejeune, playing his fourth game in 11 days after recovering from long-term injury, was culpable for Leicester’s first-half goals. First, a dangerous ball across the back in the 36th minute was intercepted by Perez, who scored. The defender gave the ball away again three minutes later, and Maddison netted.

Things got worse before the interval. Bruce lost Willems and Manquillo to injuries, while Shelvey, struggling late in the half, was replaced at the break by Sean Longstaff.

Schar went down early in the second half and, after initially trying to play on, was forced off, leaving Newcastle to play almost 40 minutes with 10 men.

Hamza Choudhury capped a unhappy New Year with a stadium-emptying third goal.

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Dubravka; Manquillo (Krafth, 45), Schar, Fernandez, Lejeune, Willems (Yedlin, 45); Almiron, Hayden, Shelvey (S Longstaff, 46), Muto; Joelinton. Subs not used: Darlow, Carroll, Gayle, Atsu.