The NUFC boss has also sung the praises of the Algerian, revealing how Bentaleb is now in “far, far better condition” than he did when he arrived from Schalke in January.
Bruce believes both he and and Lazaro have been “excellent” since football returned and is clearly keen to take a closer look at both tonight – and he’ll need to with Hayden, S Longstaff, Almiron and ASM all expected to miss out.
Speaking to BBC Newcastle’s Matthew Raisbeck, here’s what Bruce had to say:
“Danny [Rose] has been on the bench the last couple of games, because he played three or four on the spin, and physically, it has taken its toll on him.
“He has had a week off so he will play [against Man City], the same with Lazaro too.
“They [the three January loan signings] have all been hampered by the shutdown, so we haven’t seen a lot of them.
“Now all of them [Rose, Bentaleb, Lazaro] want to play.
“I think they have added something to us in terms of competition and we will see how their performances are over the next five games, [Nabil] Bentaleb looks in far far better condition than he did when he arrived.
“I thought he has been excellent in the games he’s played and the same for Lazaro too after the lockdown.
“It took him time to get up to speed but in training over the last week to 10 days, he looks as though he is where he should be.”
It’s good to see Bruce hand some praise to Bentaleb and Lazaro in particular, two clearly talented players who’ve arguably looked better than Danny Rose in flashes – despite being given less game time.
That said, it won’t be easy for any to impress tonight against a top class Man City side who’ve won their three home game since football returned by an aggregate score of 12-0!
They’ve shown their quality, however. Rose has been solid since football returned, Bentaleb was brilliant at Bournemouth and look slick in an impressive second half performance against West Ham, while Lazaro showed his class at the Vitality last week, finishing superbly and smashing the crossbar in a lively 20-minute cameo.
With several key players set to miss out tonight, let’s hope all three can do themselves justice and move on step closer to securing permanent deals!