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"Let's enjoy the challenge" - Bruce on facing Premier League champions

Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce is targeting a positive end to the Magpies' Premier League campaign ahead of Friday's visit of Manchester City (kick-off 8pm BST).

After an impressive 4-2 away win at Champions League-chasing Leicester City last Friday, followed by Fulham's defeat against Burnley on Monday night, Newcastle confirmed their status in the English top-flight for the 2021/22 season.

And Bruce, who received a nomination for Premier League Manager of the Month for April, expressed his delight with his side's dominant display against the Foxes as well as their recent run of results since a difficult 3-0 loss at Brighton & Hove Albion in March.

He said: "Since the Brighton game, to produce the performances that we've done against some really good teams is fair play to the team and the staff who have worked tirelessly. 

"The way we've played, especially last week (against Leicester), has been a delight to watch.

"It's the best performance that I have been involved with at Newcastle and what we're trying to be and the identity of what we're trying to put into place. We have to build on that in certain areas but I enjoyed watching us last week.

"When I watched it back, we were a threat all night on the counter-attack. I was delighted and just at the right time we produced a hell of a performance. I think everybody enjoyed it, which we all aspire to."

Aside from striker Callum Wilson, who will miss the remainder of the season after a sustaining a hamstring injury against Leicester, Bruce revealed he has a fully fit squad to choose from ahead of facing Pep Guardiola's high-profile squad. 

"Everybody is OK apart from Callum Wilson," he revealed. "Thankfully there's nothing to report. Let's hope its stays that way for the next week or so and let everybody have a well deserved break.

"In hindsight I should have taken him (Wilson) off before but it's his other side (to his previous injury). We expect it to be two or three weeks so it's nothing like the last one which is good news but still a shame he can't finish the season with us."

Newcastle's upcoming opponents, who reached the Champions League final earlier this month, have lost just once on the road this term and target a Premier League record-breaking 12th consecutive away win on Friday night.

Bruce, however, still aims to better last season's points tally of 44 with three league games remaining but remains fully aware of the threat the Premier League champions bestow.

"Of course, you've got to get the balance right," the former Manchester United defender said. "You have to say congratulations to Manchester City. They've been absolutely breathtaking at times this year. You even see them blowing way top teams in Europe.

"They're an unbelievably good outfit so we'll have to be somewhere near our best to get anything from them but let's enjoy the challenge. 

"We've had many, many problems with injury and Covid so if we can achieve, in terms of points, what we had last year, I'll accept it but we're not going to celebrate it because we all want to see Newcastle in a better position than we are."

On City manager, Pep Guardiola, Bruce added: "I can't speak highly enough of him. I think all the young coaches of today aspire to be Pep. He's had such an influence. For example, the goalkeepers. Every goalkeeper is part of a back four and you play off your goalkeeper.

"He always has this sensational attitude to succeed, a little bit like my old boss, Sir Alex (Ferguson). It's never enough to just win it - as soon as he wins it it's onto the next one. In my opinion, he's the best manager in the world at the moment."

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Steve Bruce's pre-Manchester City media briefing in full

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