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Bruce hoping Joelinton can follow Almirón's lead

Written by Rory Mitchinson

Steve Bruce is hopeful Joelinton can follow the trend set by Miguel Almirón after the Brazilian notched his first goal for more than four months on Tuesday night.

The frontman’s only previous strike for United came away to Tottenham Hotspur in August but, with less than ten minutes to play against Rochdale at St. James’ Park, he got on the end of substitute Tom Allan’s centre before making a beeline for the hosts’ dugout to celebrate with Bruce.

And, ahead of Saturday’s Premier League visit of Chelsea, the Magpies’ head coach is eager for Joelinton to replicate fellow South American Almirón’s recent form, the attacker having struck four times in the last month after ending a goal drought of nearly a year.

“As I said the other night, if you compared the first five minutes of the game to the last five minutes, you could see that little bit of weight taken off his shoulders,” Bruce said of Joelinton’s display. “That’s certainly been the case in training. We’re all delighted for him – he’s had a tough time. Hopefully, a bit like Almirón, when everyone kept asking me when he was going to score, the same thing will happen with Joe.

“We know he’s got a lot of qualities – he’s a young man and he’s still learning. But he’ll have learned how difficult the Premier League is, for a start, and let’s hope now he can get that little bit of confidence, which is why we played him in both cup ties. He nearly got two or three down at Rochdale, and thankfully in the last five minutes the other night he managed to score. Let’s hope it does him the world of good.”

Javier Manquillo, DeAndre Yedlin, Ki Sung-yueng and Yoshinori Muto all remain sidelined for the Magpies, as do Paul Dummett and Dwight Gayle, with the former likely to be in for a lengthy lay-off.

However, Bruce has been handed a boost by Allan Saint-Maximin’s return to fitness, with the winger now in line to feature for Newcastle for the first time since early December.

“I think that’s good news for everybody,” the United boss said. “He’s trained for the last two weeks, and we hope he’s going to be OK for tomorrow.

“He’s got that absolute pace – that raw pace and power and that natural ability to go past someone. He is one where he can, in a flash, turn the game for you. And we’ve seen it many times with him – when he’s been in the team, the results speak for themselves. We’ve missed him over the past four or five weeks, but then even the biggest teams miss their best players. It’s good to have him back.”

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