Joe Willock & Callum Wilson’s fitness plus a system change - key questions for Newcastle United’s Steve Bruce

Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce faces the north east press this morning - and here’s the questions he’s likely to address.

Steve Bruce’s Newcastle United side travel down Watford’s Vicarage Road looking to end their six-game, winless start to the 2021/22 Premier League season.

Injuries and a change of system have dominated the agenda among the fanbase - but what else will Bruce look to address? Here’s the five main topics of conversation, likely to be discussed this morning.

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Is Joe Willock fit?

Willock was this week pictured wearing a protective boot when spotted by a fan - and this sighting has got fans asking the question: ‘will he be fit for Watford?’.

The former Arsenal midfielder, United’s only signing of the summer, is just starting to reach his levels of last season - and any absence would leave a considerable hole in the centre of United’s system.

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.

When will Callum Wilson return?

Bruce has been keen to stick to not putting a timeframe on the return of Wilson to first-team action.

Training pictures this week did not show the player out on the grass - and because of that, it’s safe to assume he won’t make the trip to Vicarage Road.

But will he be available for the trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers the week after? Only time will tell on that one.

What about other injuries - the likes of Martin Dubravka?

Newcastle keeper Dubravka looks to be edging towards fitness, but is unlikely to be rushed back into action after such a long lay off. The Slovak has not played since the Euros in June, that horror show against Spain.

Clarity on his return, however, would be interesting to hear.

Others in the treatment room include Paul Dummett, who, when fit, is a key component of the Newcastle backline. His return can’t come soon enough.

Will you stick or twist with 5-3-2?

This is probably the most intriguing question on the agenda.

United have stuck with the five-man backline through thin and thinner this season, but switched to counter-act Leeds United’s attacking dominance last weekend. And in truth they looked a whole lot more balanced in the 4-2-3-1 formation deployed from 30 minutes onwards.

Will they stick with it, or return to their 5-3-2, which has been worked on since the end of last season?

Many fans are hoping for the former.

Does Steve Bruce feel safe in his job?

This week has seen rumours circling of managerial change at United, driven mostly by a drop in the odds for Eddie Howe to become the next manager at Newcastle.

Is Bruce safe - and does he feel it? That’s only a question he can answer.

He has recently admitted he will NOT walk away from the job, however.