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Midfield duo could return against Liverpool, says Bruce

Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce says midfield duo Isaac Hayden and Sean Longstaff could come back into contention for the Magpies’ final Premier League game of the season against Liverpool on Sunday (4pm kick-off).

United have suffered with injuries in recent week, with Longstaff and Hayden among those who have been absent along with the likes of Fabian Schär and Jamaal Lascelles.

But with Bruce’s side set to round off the campaign against the champions at St. James’ Park, Newcastle’s head coach could be boosted by the return of Hayden and Longstaff in the middle of the park – though full back Emil Krafth could miss out with an ankle problem.

“We might have Isaac and Sean Longstaff,” he said. “We’ve got a problem with Emil – he took a nasty whack to the ankle – so we’ll see how he is in the next 24 hours.

“But if they come through, then Isaac and Sean might be available for the weekend.”

Young centre half Kell Watts was on the bench for the draw at Brighton & Hove Albion on Monday night and, with United particularly short on central defenders, the 20-year-old could again be involved against Jürgen Klopp’s men.

On the prospect of a debut for Watts, Bruce added: “There’s a possibility, but the main thing is with the boy is he hasn’t played for something like five months, which is a big ask if you haven’t played at all.

"He was out on loan and did very, very well and we’re very, very pleased with his progress. It’s a big, big ask for someone to come in and make their debut when you haven’t had a game under your belt for so long, so that’s in my thought process.”

Liverpool collected the Premier League trophy in midweek after amassing 96 points to date on their way to securing their first Premier League title.

And before the Magpies take a short break to ready themselves for the new campaign, Bruce wants his charges to bring the curtain down on a long, challenging season in the best possible way this weekend – but he was quick to pay tribute to Klopp and his side, who had the title all but secured before the restart.

“When you look at their team, and the squad of players they’ve put together, they’re young, and they could be around for a long, long time,” said Bruce. “To slaughter the league like they have, you can only just applaud them.

“To be 20-odd points clear… they practically won the league before lockdown. It’s a quite remarkable achievement, so congratulations to them all. They’re a breath of fresh air.”

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