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Has Steve Bruce learnt lessons of his Leicester injury shambles a year and a day ago?

2 weeks ago
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Steve Bruce watched on as his team were taken apart by Leicester City.

Newcastle United lucky to only lose 3-0 at home.

That match was on 1 January 2020, exactly one year and one day ago.

Tomorrow sees Leicester back on Tyneside but will Steve Bruce have learnt any lessons from the shambles he presided over that day?

It wasn’t just the tactics that were so questionable that day, it was the reckless nature of the team selection.

Steve Bruce gambled when playing six outfield players, who were all playing their third game in only six days.

By the 47th minute there was carnage, four players forced off by injury and three of them were amongst the six who had been asked to play a third game in such quick succession.

Jetro Willems, Javier Manquillo and Fabian Schar were that trio, plus Shelvey also forced off, Newcastle having to play with only ten men for almost the entire second half.

Steve Bruce has regularly in the past talked about the need to use his squad and not overplay players, yet rarely has really delivered on this.

After the Premier League restart in July, Steve Bruce picked exactly the same 11 players for the game against Sheffield United AND Aston Villa only three days later. During the Villa game, both Ritchie and Hayden were forced off due to injury, Steve Bruce saying afterwards: ‘They are both soft tissue injuries and we will have to wait and see, but the pair of them are genuine and honest, so for them to come off…’

Back to the present day and I will be interested in particular, whether Steve Bruce picks a certain two players against Leicester.

DeAndre Yedlin has played over 360 minutes in an 11 day stretch, starting all four games, this despite his last start being in September and playing no football at all in October and November.

Will Steve Bruce really start Yedlin in a fifth game in what would be a 15 day stretch, particularly when you consider the player’s all action style. Not the greatest footballer but somebody who always gives the proverbial 110% up and down the pitch.

Bruce talked of the terrible luck he experienced in that Leicester match a year and a day ago BUT it was very difficult not to believe that at least some of that terrible ‘luck’ had been self-inflicted.

Another player to keep an eye on is Matty Longstaff.

He had last started a match in January 2020, his only football this season a 29 minute sub appearance at Southampton on 6 November, but he has played the full 90+ minutes against both Liverpool and Man City.

Two full matches against tough opponents, loads of running as Newcastle rarely had the ball. Steve Bruce has been keen to talk about the injury and fitness problems Matty Longstaff has experienced. So interesting as well, to see whether he also starts tomorrow, which would be three starts in an eight day stretch, against another very good team that Newcastle will no doubt be chasing much of the game.

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