Magpies duo set to miss Watford trip
Written by Grant Pringle
Newcastle United will be without the services of Jamaal Lascelles and Joe Willock when they head to Watford in search of a first win of the season on Saturday afternoon (3pm kick-off).
The Magpies head to Vicarage Road this weekend seeking to kick-start their campaign, with Premier League points at stake against the newly-promoted Hornets.
United showed signs of improvement in the pulsating 1-1 draw with Leeds at St. James' Park last Friday night, but that victory still eludes them – and head coach Bruce has confirmed that they will have to do without their captain and summer signing when they face last season's Championship runners-up.
"We've got a couple of problems," he revealed. "Joe Willock picked up an injury in training this week unfortunately, and Jamaal Lascelles hurt his thigh, so they go onto the injured list which makes that about five or six we’ve got of our first team – not that healthy, I have to say.
"Joe's was a complete fluke – unfortunately he kicked the ground and damaged the capsule in his toe, so he'll not make this week and probably touch and go whether he makes next week as well.
"(Lascelles' injury) is a muscle – it happened late on in the game. He tried yesterday and it was no good so I'd think it will be another couple of weeks I'd have thought, with a muscle strain.
"It's how we adapt to it, how we get on with it. It's why we have a squad of players, so let's hope we can pick a team, get that right, and we can go and keep the performance the way it was against Leeds."
On his side's need to earn a first win, Bruce added: "That's the Premier League. Everybody wants to get off to a good start. We haven't. There's been bits of games where I've been very pleased and I thought we played ever so well for a good hour and a bit down at Manchester (United). I thought we played very, very well after the first 20 minutes against Leeds.
"I hope we keep those standards and we get a result – and that's what it's all about in the Premier League. You've got to find a result which, when you're up against it, is always difficult."
There was some encouraging news on Martin Dúbravka this week, though, with the Slovakian goalkeeper returning to training having been out injured since featuring for his country in the European Championships this summer.
Forward Callum Wilson will again be absent against Xisco Munoz's men, though, with head coach Bruce hinting that the majority of his injured charges are in line to return to action following next month’s international break.
Watford, meanwhile, sit 11th in the table after a mixed start which has seen them win two and lose three of their five league outings so far – and Bruce wants his side to make sure they keep things tight at the back against Munoz's dangerous attacking trio of Ismaila Sarr, Josh King and Emmanuel Dennis.
"They've won a couple of games. They're newly promoted back into the Premier League – they've been up and down a little bit," he said.
"But they've got some real quality at the top end of the pitch with a lot of pace, so we'll have to defend well."