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Bruce aiming for strong start to 2020 against Leicester

Written by Luke Vinton

Steve Bruce is aiming for Newcastle United to begin 2020 in a positive manner as the Magpies host Leicester City on New Years' Day (kick-off 3pm GMT).

The Magpies take on the high-flying Foxes at St. James' Park, determined to bounce back from back-to-back league defeats against Manchester United and Everton.

United will also be hoping to avoid any repeat of their reverse fixture against Brendan Rodgers' side, in which Newcastle suffered a forgettable 5-0 thrashing at the King Power Stadium.

Bruce said: "I knew that day they were a good side. In fairness, up until half-time it was only one-nil and we then had a man sent off. For me, it wasn't about the shape and tactics but the resilience.

"When you go to the wire, all I expect is for them to put their boots on and have a go. If they do that for me then fine but, on that occasion, I don't think we covered ourselves in glory.

"We didn't do enough to prevent the five (goals conceded) with ten men and that was my concern. Since then, we've been terrific in what we've done. We're just outside the top ten at Christmas going into the New Year. There's a lot to play for."

The Magpies have responded strongly since the difficult loss in September and currently sit in 11th place, seven points above the Premier League's bottom three.

Despite United's home defeat against the Toffees - the Magpies' first since the opening day of the season - Bruce praised his squad for an impressive first half of the campaign.

Bruce added: "The one thing you need is a response and if they down tools, then you've had it. (The defeat against Everton) was the first time we'd been beaten here since Arsenal in August so their resilience and effort is something I can't fault.

"We would love a bit more quality at certain times but their effort and spirit is there for everybody to see.

"I think we've found a system which suits the players of what we've got. When we go away from that, I think we're vulnerable so I think we've settled into a pattern of being difficult to play against, playing on the counter attack and that's what we are.

"That's where most of the players are comfortable with and something which we've done okay with and they're comfortable with it. We've had a few results so at the moment we will stay with it."

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