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New trio could be key for us, says Bruce

Written by Rory Mitchinson

Steve Bruce feels that Newcastle United’s three January signings will have a “big part to play” between now and the end of the campaign – starting with Saturday’s Premier League game against Norwich City at St. James’ Park.

The Magpies have added Nabil Bentaleb, Valentino Lazaro and Danny Rose to their ranks over the past month, the latter having arrived from Tottenham yesterday for the remainder of the season.

Bentaleb has already made his United bow, against Oxford in the FA Cup a week ago, a game for which Lazaro was ineligible, having only joined the day before.

But, with Newcastle still missing a clutch of players – including Paul Dummett and Jetro Willems, neither of whom will play again this season – the trio are all in line to feature to some extent as the Magpies look to put further daylight between themselves and the bottom three by beating Daniel Farke’s Canaries.

“With the three new lads, it’s essential they’ve come into the squad and they’ll have a big part to play over the next three or four months,” said Bruce. “Very quietly, we’ve gone about it in the right way. I think the three players that we’ve brought in have brought that little bit of quality to the squad. That’s what I was always, always trying to do. Whether we’ll do anything more today (Friday), I doubt, but I’m delighted with what we’ve done. There’s one or two we tried for and couldn’t quite get, but that’s always the case. I’ve always said that if we can’t get the right one, we’ll wait and keep our powder dry for the summer, until the market is far easier than it is for all of us in this crazy four weeks.

“The one thing we haven’t done is panic into what we wanted to get. If you’d have asked two weeks ago if I would have thought about bringing in a left back or a left wing back I’d have said no, but it became a bit of a priority with the problems we had there. We’ve acted in the right way. We’d have loved to have brought another forward player to the club, but that’s not been possible. I’ve always said that it’s about bringing in a bit of quality and improving us, and that’s the only way I’ll act.”

United were comprehensively beaten by Norwich on the second weekend of the Premier League campaign but they’ve since amassed twice as many points as the Canaries, who have slipped to the bottom of the table.

The Magpies head into the clash on the back of an unbeaten January though Bruce acknowledged that they must produce a better showing than they did against League One side Oxford a week ago, who secured a replay in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup after a stalemate at St. James’ Park.

“I don’t have to tell them that we didn’t play well enough on the day,” said Bruce. “To be fair to Oxford, they were excellent – they played to their maximum – and we got nowhere near where we’re capable of. We’ll address it again on Tuesday, but (first) we’ll get ready for Norwich tomorrow, which is a big game, and get our attention focussed to that. If we can win it, that would put us in a really, really strong position.

“Norwich are a good football team. They played really well in the Championship and they haven’t changed their style. We know they’re good to watch and they’re excellent in their forward play, so it’ll be a difficult game. I’ve just analysed their last four or five games – I’ve watched them all week – and they’ve been very unlucky. Even though they’re bottom of the pile at the moment, they’re a good side. They’re capable, like every other team.”


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Steve Bruce's pre-Norwich media briefing in full

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