Sky Sports’ Newcastle United reporter Keith Downie has featured on the latest edition of their Pitch to Post podcast to discuss the Tyneside club ahead of their weekend clash against Brighton & Hove Albion.
Bruce has been without three of his star players in Allan Saint-Maximin, Miguel Almiron and Callum Wilson in recent weeks due to respective injuries, however, Downie does not believe the remaining squad should be fighting relegation with the likes of Matt Ritchie, Andy Carroll and Dwight Gayle on the bench.
He said: “These three guys haven’t been really getting off the bench or playing enough. So you know, they must be thinking, ‘What chance have I got here if our front three are out and I’m not getting in?’ That shows they have got a depth to the squad, that the front three are out and those three are still largely unused.
“So yeah, I’m not buying that [they don’t have depth]. I think Newcastle do have the squad there to stay up. And that is definitely not a team or a squad who should be sitting in the position they are in the league.
“My opinion is that they’ve only really got themselves to blame to be there. Take [the pandemic] out of it when you had that in November through the squad, take the injuries out of it, they should still not be flirting with relegation right now.”
Will Newcastle avoid the drop?
Carroll has made 16 Premier League appearances for the Magpies this season, however, has only played 376 minutes in the league for Bruce, with 14% of his game time coming from the starting XI which has left the striker only finding the back of the net once (via Transfermarkt).
TIF Thoughts on Downie’s comments…
When you look at Newcastle’s squad there is some great talent at Bruce’s disposal – this is a team that finished in the top half just three seasons ago. They have struggled with injuries this season and the pandemic, in particular, but yet they find themselves in the middle of a relegation scrap.
So even without their three main men, the squad – on paper – looks strong enough to still be clear of the relegation fight, but in reality that is not the case.