Steve Bruce has heaped praise on Newcastle United forward Christian Atsu for the effect he has had after numerous injuries at St James’ Park.
The Ghanaian international missed the majority of pre-season with a hamstring injury but was a welcome return at the beginning of the Premier League season, and has started the previous couple of games under Bruce.
Speaking to the Chronicle, Bruce was quick to reveal how pleased he has been with Atsu, despite hardly seeing the winger throughout the summer due to the African Cup of Nations and injuries.
“I’ve only really seen Christian since the back end of last week because of the stuff with the African Nations and being injured, but as soon as he’s come in, he’s handled the ball well.”
“Whether it’s given him a new lease of life, I’m not sure, but I been very, very pleased with him. He’s done very, very well. He ran himself to a standstill (against Watford) I have to tell you.”
The 27-year-old delivered the all-important assist to Joelinton to score the winner in the Magpies’ only victory of the season against Tottenham.
The timing of Atsu’s return to full fitness couldn’t have come at a better time for Bruce and Newcastle. The 27-year-old has impressed under Bruce and has been given the opportunity for some freedom down the left-hand-side, something that has helped him express himself. Atsu has been good both going forward and tracking back to help new signing Jetro Willems who has struggled with injuries himself. The injury to Matt Ritchie left Bruce with a potential headache after it was confirmed that he will be out for two months [Sky Sports], but the form of both Atsu and Willems has definitely helped cover that. With one assist to his name, Atsu could easily have had more already, with the paceman having averaged three key passes per game so far, as well as completing 2.5 dribbles in each outing [WhoScored] – both stats proving he can beat his man with ease and set up a chance when he is needed. Another injury could definitely hinder Newcastle, but with the continued form of Atsu, Bruce will rest easy for now and hope that the international break can see some of his squad slowly return to full fitness.