Bruce eyeing back-to-back wins ahead of Palace visit
Steve Bruce hopes Newcastle United’s 2-0 weekend win at Everton can be the catalyst for a positive week for the Magpies, as they get set to face Crystal Palace on Tuesday (8:15pm kick-off).
United welcome Palace to St. James’ Park buoyed by Saturday’s victory at Goodison Park, which was sealed by two goals from leading scorer Callum Wilson.
It ended a long run of matches without a win for United, and with home games against Palace and Southampton now the focus for his side, Bruce wants that triumph over the Toffees – his charges first three points since early December – to act as a springboard to lift the Magpies up the Premier League table.
“The nature of the Premier League is you’ve got to be ready to go again tomorrow night, so we were in Sunday morning getting ready to go,” he explained. “But it’s given everybody a bit of a lift, particularly the players, because a bit of the confidence that we talk about seemed to return a little bit. I think it was the performance which pleased us all, so more of the same please.
“In a bad run, you need a result to turn it around. What we hope now is that we’ve got two games – I would love to say in front of a full house at St. James’, but it’s not to be – and we’ve got an opportunity in two home games against two really good teams as well.
“It gives us an opportunity, but if we play and it’s the performance we’re looking for – and we played very well at the weekend – let’s hope we can stay there, keep injury free and not disrupted, because we have been badly disrupted, and add to the victory at the weekend.”
Winger Allan Saint-Maximin made another substitute appearance against Everton as he continues to work towards full fitness, and Bruce will once again have the Frenchman in his squad for the visit of Roy Hodgson’s men.
“It seems to be a problem at the minute – Jamaal and Fede (Fernández) in particular, who have picked up muscle injuries. We don’t know if it’s related to the illnesses they’ve had, but Jamaal’s having a scan today and I don’t think he’ll make tomorrow.
“We left (Paul Dummett) behind so we could get more work into him at the weekend. When we’re getting injuries, it seems to be in the same position. Dummy and Ciaran Clark – and Ciaran Clark played 45 minutes (at Everton), as you know – will be available tomorrow night.
“The only concern I’ve got at the minute is Ryan Fraser, who unfortunately has been sick all weekend. He couldn’t make training yesterday.
“Thankfully we don’t think it’s related to COVID, but obviously it’s a blow for us because he’s been stop-start since the start of the season. We’ll see how he is today, but that’s the only worry I’ve got at the moment.”
The Eagles have endured something of a slump themselves recently, but beat Wolves last time out thanks to Eberechi Eze’s winner at Selhurst Park.
And Bruce knows his side won’t have it easy against Palace and their vastly experienced boss Hodgson, who turns 74 this year.
“Roy’s been around the block a long, long time. When you look at what he’s done and what he’s achieved, and the enthusiasm he’s still got for it, and the ability to still put a team out there, just when they need a result, they always seem to get it – and what a good habit that is,” said the United head coach.
“They’ve been on a bit of a difficult run like ourselves, but they’ve got good players at the top end of the pitch, good players, so as always it’s going to be difficult.”