'Why was it a surprise?' – Steve Bruce explains Joe Willock's start for Newcastle United at Aston Villa

Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce explained his decision to start Joe Willock at Aston Villa despite the midfielder’s lack of match fitness.

The 22-year-old played just 48-minutes in pre-season for Arsenal before signing for the Magpies last week. He was signed too late to feature in the opening day defeat against West Ham United but was thrust straight into the starting line-up for the trip to Villa Park as The Magpies suffered a 2-0 defeat.

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Willock hadn’t played since August 1 so there was a degree of surprise to see him named in the side so soon.

Douglas Luiz of Aston Villa battles for possession with Joe Willock of Newcastle United during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Newcastle United at Villa Park on August 21, 2021 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

But Bruce felt his decision to start his new £25-million signing was justified.

“Why was it a surprise?” The Magpies boss responded. “When is he going to play minutes?

"He's a fit lad who has trained all summer, he hasn't played nearly enough minutes but I never thought I was at risk with him because of the fitness levels Joe has got.”

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