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Bruce up for the cup despite injury doubts

Written by Luke Vinton

Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce is faced with a number of injury concerns ahead of the Magpies' second round clash against Leicester City.

United host the Foxes at St. James' Park on Wednesday, 28th August (kick-off 7.45pm BST) aiming to build on Sunday's impressive 1-0 victory at Tottenham Hotspur courtesy of Joelinton's match-winning strike - the Brazilian's first Premier League goal for the Magpies.

Bruce is focused on fielding a strong side in the all-Premier League affair but is faced with six injury concerns, including Allan Saint-Maximin, Joelinton and Jamaal Lascelles, who were all forced to withdraw against Spurs. 

"I've got players which have a few knocks and bruises," he said. "Joelinton has played when he was sore with a groin so he is a bit of a doubt. (Miguel) Almirón (ankle), (Fabian) Schär (knock), Jamaal (Lascelles) (calf), and (Christian) Atsu (muscle) are all doubts.

"A few are carrying a few things so the one thing I can't do, as I've done with Allan (Saint-Maximin) is if there's a slight risk. We're waiting to let his hamstring settle. The initial scans say it isn't serious but we will not know the severity of it until later.

"I still expect to pick a team which is hopefully going to take us through (to the next round)."

United bounced back strongly from their disappointing 3-1 defeat against Norwich City with a terrific win over Spurs - who reached the Champions League final last term.

And Bruce is now setting his sights on an important week for the Magpies, beginning with the cup clash before United host Watford in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon, who are yet to record a point after their opening three league fixtures.

Bruce added: "It's an amazing game. A week ago, we simply didn't play well enough but the one thing you always want when that happens is a response. To a man, they were terrific so we've set the standard which we've obviously got to maintain. 

"To go down to the capital and beat them in their own back yard was terrific and the response was evident for everybody to see. It was the matter of the way they went about their job which everybody associated with the club was delighted with.

"We always knew it was going to be a big week. We've got a big cup tie - the only Premier League tie there is and then we have Watford before the (international) break. If we can get through in the cup and can take something from Watford, we will have had a good week."

Bruce, who was a ball boy for United's last League Cup venture to Wembley Stadium - a 3-1 defeat against Manchester City in the 1976 final - is targeting a strong run in the competition and hopes to replicate his cup experiences with Hull, with Bruce guiding the Tigers to the FA Cup final in 2014.

And although the Corbridge-born coach highlighted the strengths in United's opponents, with Brendan Rodgers' side sitting in fourth place after an unbeaten start in the top flight, he intends to take a serious approach against the 2016 Premier League champions. 

"They (Leicester) have done fantastically well and had a very decent start to the season," he added. "In Brendan (Rodgers), they've got a very good coach and they're a very good side when you look at the strength in depth they've got. They've recruited very well over the years and they will be tough opposition.

"I said when I walked through the door, any Premier League team is capable of getting there (to Wembley). You only have to win five games and I learnt that with Hull a few seasons ago. You saw Watford to get to the FA Cup final last year so it's something we'll take seriously and let's hope we can get through."


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Steve Bruce's pre-Leicester media briefing in full

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