Where Joe Willock fits into Newcastle United's first-team plans as Arsenal loan man prepares for Southampton debut

Newcastle United new boy Joe Willock was signed by Steve Bruce to add ‘legs’ to the Magpies’ midfield.

It’s understood United were of the belief they needed to complement their current crop of midfielders with a player who could add energy, an ability to go box-to-box and with an eye for goal – and in signing England under-21 international Willock, the club feel they’ve done just that.

Despite talk of a deadline day move for Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Willock was always understood to be the club’s top loan target from the Emirates. Clubs can only sign one player on loan from another Premier League club.

Maitland-Niles ended up signing for Sam Allardyce’s West Brom in the closing hours of the January window.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19: Referee Andre Marriner awards Joe Willock of Arsenal a yellow card during the Premier League match between Everton and Arsenal at Goodison Park on December 19, 2020 in Liverpool, England. A limited number of fans (2000) are welcomed back to stadiums to watch elite football across England. This was following easing of restrictions on spectators in tiers one and two areas only. (Photo by Jon Super - Pool/Getty Images)

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Willock is likely to start his Newcastle career on the bench on Saturday, when ailing Southampton come to St James’s Park.

But the medium-term view is that Willock will play the role Jeff Hendrick currently occupies in the United starting XI.

Speaking to NUFC TV, Willock highlighted under-fire Steve Bruce as one of the main reason why he decided to sign for United.

"For me, it was when I first spoke to the manager Steve Bruce, he spoke to me and gave me brilliant confidence to come here and try to make a difference. That was my first initial thought and I felt that this was the club that I wanted to go to.

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"Then it developed and everything went smoothly but now I am here and ready to start the new journey.

"The manager asked me how I was and how training was. He was very humorous with me, he made a few jokes. I'm a funny guy and I love to have jokes.

"It was a conversation starter but then he spoke about how he was going to use me, where he sees me in the team, he had a whole plan for me already. I was really shocked, it's the first time I've had a manager who had a whole plan for me."

Bruce must decide whether to bring Willock straight in, or opt for an Allan Saint-Maximin recall against the Saints, who come to Tyneside without TEN first-team players and on the back of a 9-0 loss at Old Trafford.

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