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Bruce demands reaction from Magpies at Watford

Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce has demanded a reaction from his players at Watford this weekend after their six-game unbeaten Premier League run came to an end at Manchester City in midweek.

The under-strength Magpies, who were without the services of captain Jamaal Lascelles, midfielder Isaac Hayden and winger Allan Saint-Maximin among others, were beaten 5-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night.

But they travel to Vicarage Road on Saturday (12:30pm kick-off) with renewed impetus as they bid to move on from that torrid evening at City, and head coach Bruce wants to see a big improvement from his charges as they look to get back to winning ways.

“It’s how you respond to the manner of it. In 38 games, I’m sure that most teams unless you’re really one of those ones at the top, have had those awful days,” he said.

“Like always, you never want to play badly on the biggest stage, that’s for sure. What you do get in football is the chance to go again. We’ve got it round the corner, (the chance to) be more like ourselves, so I expect and demand a better performance tomorrow and I’m confident the players can do that.”

Bruce added: “Their own personal pride will be hurt and the one thing they are here is genuine. Yes, of course we’ve had two or three bad days, and one of them was against Manchester City the other night.

“However, it’s how you respond to it, and I expect them to respond in the right way.”

United are hopeful that one or two key players who missed the midweek reverse will be fit enough to face the Hornets, who beat Norwich 2-1 last time out courtesy of a Danny Welbeck overhead kick.

“I hope Almirón, Saint-Maximin and the skipper will be okay – we’ll see how they are after training,” said Bruce. “That will give us a hand.

“Unfortunately, the other night – and I’m not trying to make excuses, we were badly beaten – but we had to many of our big players not available and it turned into one of those awful nights for us.”

Almirón and Saint-Maximin have been particularly influential for the Magpies, whose form since the restart has been largely encouraging.

And Bruce hopes, if fit, they will make a big impression against a resurgent Watford who are looking to pull themselves away from the relegation zone.

“I think why we’ve changed is to try and get the best out of our players in forward areas. You have to score a goal to win a match. I’m sure we’ll benefit if they’re right, the two of them,” he said.

“I’ve studied Watford since we’re now taking them on, and have watched them twice, and think they’ve got some good players – how are they in the situation they’re in?

“That’s how difficult the Premier League is. Nigel (Pearson)’s done a wonderful job in turning them round. They’re big, strong and powerful, and make no mistake – they’ll be looking at this as their cup final.

“They’ll be looking at us and thinking, ‘what a chance we’ve got today’. We have to be guarded against that and see what we can do.”

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Steve Bruce's pre-Watford media briefing in full

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