Bruce impressed by Longstaff's Carrow Road cameo
Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce says he has been impressed by Sean Longstaff, as the young midfielder bids to return to the starting line-up for Sunday’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur.
The Magpies travel to Spurs (4:30pm kick-off) looking to respond after the 3-1 defeat to Norwich City at Carrow Road last weekend, in which Longstaff appeared as a 74th-minute substitute.
The 21-year-old helped United regain some rhythm in the middle of the park during that brief outing, setting up Jonjo Shelvey’s late goal.
And Bruce says that while he has impressed him, he needs to “protect him” as he continues to work his way back into the side following a lengthy lay-off with a serious knee injury.
“Certainly last week I just detected that he was a little bit ginger with his knee, which is understandable. He’s been out for the best part of five months, and the one thing I needed to do was just try to protect him a little bit, and have a conversation with him to say, 'look, it's normal that sometimes you might have to miss a day or two', just to make sure he was ready,” he said.
“But certainly when he came on against Norwich last week, he had an immediate influence on the team and we were much better when he was in there. My job is to make sure that he’s right, 100 per cent right – he’s only a young lad making his way, and of course he’s had a dramatic rise very, very quickly.
“Him and his brother (Matty) have impressed me immensely, but it’s my job to protect him a little bit as well, and that’s all I did last week.”
Newcastle have been boosted by the news that record signing Joelinton has recovered from the knock he sustained against the Canaries, and is available for selection against Mauricio Pochettino’s Champions League finalists.
And Bruce is also hopeful that fellow summer signing Allan Saint-Maximin will be fit enough to make the trip to the capital after missing out last weekend, though the game – United’s first at Spurs’ new stadium – has come too soon for a number of his charges.
“Christian Atsu has been on the pitch all week as well, who I hadn’t even seen until Tuesday, so it was good to see him and what he will offer us as well, which is important.”