Both got a 4 in our post-match player ratings piece and it’s easy to see why, with the duo looking lethargic and off the pace in a disjointed display in the Carabao Cup.
Here’s what Bruce has had to say about both, starting with Longstaff – a player he believes has a ‘lot of work to do’ after a ‘disappointing’ performance:
“Sean is in the last two years of his contract – we all know what capabilities he’s got he’s got to show it more often and more regularly.
“I’m sure he’ll be a bit disappointed with how he’s played, but we’ve got to make sure that we try to get him to maybe where he was.
“He’s got a lot of work to do, but he’s got healthy competition around him and as I said, he was another one who needed a game tonight and I think that showed.
“It’s an important season for all of them who want to try to get into the team.
“It was a perfect way today to throw down the gauntlet to get into the team or Sunday in the Premier League.“
It was his first competitive start for a few months, but it’s hard to ignore just how much he’s declined since he broke onto the scene under Rafa Benitez, with him looking as though he’s treading water at times.
As for Joelinton, Bruce admitted it was another ‘frustrating night’ for the Brazilian – who looked out of sorts and a little lost up top:
“He has to dust himself down and get on with the challenge.
“He had a frustrating night, it is fair to say.
“Joe has always, always worked his socks off.
“He’s got to dust himself down and get on with it.”
It’s time we stopped trying to play him up top on his own – it’s not working – but he needs to work on the basics and start looking more lively if he wants to get in the side ahead of Fraser, Almiron or ASM.
On the subject of Saint-Maximin, Bruce also shared an update on his knee – insisting that it doesn’t look like there’s any injury to worry about despite falling awkwardly late on and limping off:
““Yeah, we think he’s OK.
“It’s a bit of a knock, we think.
“At this stage we think there’s nothing to worry about.“
I was fearing the worst when watching the replay of his studs getting caught in the ground as he twisted his knee, but perhaps the fact he was able to continue shows it’s just a little knock for the Frenchman and he’ll be fine for Sunday.