This comes after the Brazilian played just behind Wilson in our 0-2 win at Crystal Palace last Friday – a game that saw him miss a few chances early on but end it on a well deserved high with a late goal and assist.
Bruce has praised his physicality, endeavour and that sprinkle of quality that saw him set up our all-important opener, however he believes that an important next step is for him to look more convincing in front of goal – being the one thing that threatened to let down what was an otherwise impressive all round display.
When asked how he plans to get the best out of Joelinton moving forward, here’s what he told The Chronicle:
“I think any striker likes somebody alongside him.
“We don’t see it very often these days. The way the game is played these days it’s all changed.
“He is certainly a handful.
“The link-up play and a little bit of quality between him and Callum Wilson have got them both a goal and assist each.”
“There was a performance from him.
“Physically there was a performance from him and he is now getting used to playing in the Premier League.
“Look he has to improve with his finishing.
“He had the best opportunities for us on the night (at Palace).”
“He’s stuck at it.
“The kid wants to do well. He has had a tough time, there is no disputing that, but he wants to improve.
“And he did to help us win the match.”
Although Joelinton’s performances over the past 16 months have generally been below par, it’s fair to say the £40m price tag and number nine shirt have held him back – especially when he’s never actually been a lone striker whose best trait is scoring goals!
Thankfully, we’re finally seeing him in that second striker role that allows him to link up, drive at opposition defenders and see the game ahead of him.
He was brilliant in our 3-1 win over Burnley in that role and a constant threat in the same position at Palace, with WhoScored naming him in their Premier League Team of the Week with a 9.42 rating from last Friday’s win.
With big games coming up against West Brom, Leeds, Fulham and Brentford, let’s hope Bruce does give him a proper chance in his favoured position!