Fitness, form & tactics - the key issues on Steve Bruce’s Newcastle United agenda

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Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce faces the media this morning ahead of Friday night’s visit of Leeds United - and here’s a look at the issues on his Magpies agenda.

Newcastle United host Leeds United on Friday night in front of the Sky Sports cameras, with the glare of the footballing world on St James’ Park and Steve Bruce’s Magpies.

No win in five so far this season has seen pressure build on the head coach, and with protests planned from the home fans, as well as away supporters hoovering up tickets in the United areas, tomorrow looks like another toxic atmosphere is brewing on Tyneside.

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Can United do anything on the pitch to arrest that negativity? Bruce needs to find the answers to the recent decline and sharp.

Ahead of the encounter, Bruce faces the press this morning at 9.30am (quotes embargoed to 10.30am) with a number of key issues on his agenda. Here’s the questions he’s likely to address.

1. What’s the latest news on injuries to Callum Wilson and Martin Dubravka?

Bruce looks set to be without Callum Wilson again - but is yet to put a timescale on his return. This is something fans are desperate for news on.

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A potential return for Martin Dubravka is yet to be revisited after Bruce pencilled in mid-October as a possible timeframe around a month ago.

Luke Shaw of Manchester United battles for possession with Joe Willock of Newcastle United during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford on September 11, 2021 in Manchester, England.Luke Shaw of Manchester United battles for possession with Joe Willock of Newcastle United during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford on September 11, 2021 in Manchester, England.
Luke Shaw of Manchester United battles for possession with Joe Willock of Newcastle United during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford on September 11, 2021 in Manchester, England. | Getty Images

2. Will Joe Willock and other injury doubts be fit?

The midfielder has shown in the last two games that he’s returning to some kind of form and fitness after a pre-season spent predominantly on the sidelines at Arsenal.

However, having gone off with a knock last week, there’s doubts about whether he’ll be able to continue in the centre of midfield.

Concerns also surround Paul Dummett, Ciaran Clark and Javier Manquillo.

3. Is Freddie Woodman set to be dropped?

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News of Karl Darlow being dropped last season did not go down well with the player - and it seems as if similar news has this week allowed to filter out from camp. Hardly lessons learned, is it?

If reports are to be believed this time the news will be welcomed by Darlow, with Woodman likely to drop out after a shaky show against Manchester United.

Will he be dropped or won’t he? Bruce may well address that this morning.

4. Stick or twist with the system?

Again an issue which seems to be getting more airtime among the fanbase than it actually is with Bruce and his coaches.

A change seems unlikely, but arguments for a switch are growing by the week.

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