Steve Bruce has confirmed that the Longstaff brothers missed Saturday’s win over Hull City after picking up injuries in midweek – also revealing that Jamaal Lascelles was absent to attend the birth of his new baby boy!
Bruce ‘hopes’ the Geordie duo will be back in training this week, however their no-show over our last two friendlies has prompted some supporters to grow sceptical given the ongoing contract disputes surrounding the pair.
As for the game itself over the weekend, Steve Bruce identified our ability to defend set pieces as the area we must improve on – despite us securing a 2-0 win over the Championship side – saying that’s the one area Hull caused us problems in.
Here’s what he had to say about all the above during a post-match chat with NUFC TV:
“Always nice to win but the good thing is that everybody has come through it ok, I think that is vitally important.
“We have picked up one or two (injuries) in the week, the Longstaff brothers in particular, but hopefully they will be joining us Monday or Tuesday.
“So all in all, a good workout, and it gets us ready for what lies ahead.
“Defending set-pieces we will have to be a bit better because that is where they (Hull) caused us a threat.
“The squad is as healthy as what it can be and of course with the amount of games, I can’t stress enough that we are going to need all the quad. Hence why we are bringing in four or five younger players to come and train with us, to make the numbers up.
“Once the competition starts, we will need…it’s recovery and training for the other ones, so that is why we have made the decision to bring the four or five young boys into the squad.”
Bruce on Jamaal Lascelles’ absence:
“No, Jamaal, I think everything is ok.
“He’s had, I believe, a little boy. I believe that’s the case, a boy, a baby anyway.
“So I believe all is well and congratulations to him and his family.”
Bruce on the return of Premier League football this week:
“I think we need it, I think we all need it.
“There’s only certain training [you can do], no denying though it is strange times ahead.
“When you see an empty St James’ Park it is barely recognisable.
“Something to look forward to for supporters and of course for everybody in their mental state.
“Although by the fixture schedule, everybody will be sick to death of football when it gets started.
“It is a crying shame that they [fans] can’t be here but it is the second best thing.
“They will be able to cheer on the lads from TV or laptop, or whatever they are using.
“Then let’s hope the world comes back to a more good place and we can get the supporters back.
“Because it has proved to me anyway just how much we miss them.”
Two victories against Championship opposition and a clean sheet at the weekend should stand in in good stead for this weekend’s clash with Sheffield United.
However, we should be under no illusion that this will be a much sterner test, as the Blades have been without question the Premier League’s surprise package of the season.
We delivered a quality smash-and-grab performance at Bramall Lane earlier in the season but the coronavirus lay-offs means that all form goes out the window and there could even be an odd result or two cropping up due to players differing levels of fitness.