Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce has all but confirmed that young central midfielder Matty Longstaff will start against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday.
The Magpies welcome Nuno Espirito Santo’s side to St James’ Park having been hoisted out of the relegation zone by Southampton’s 9-0 collapse against Leicester City on Friday night.
And Bruce has intimated that the younger Longstaff will feature from the beginning once again: “Well, it’s Matty’s third game in a row, but it’s not midweek,” he said, as per the Northern Echo.
“Look, the one thing we are going to have to do is manage him. He couldn’t have asked for a more difficult couple of games, let’s be fair, Manchester United and Chelsea. But he’s bounced around the training ground all week, so we’ll see.”
Clearly Bruce has no issues whatsoever in throwing Longstaff into the fire for a third time in succession on Sunday. Isaac Hayden is serving the last game of his three game ban against Santo’s side, and so Bruce was always likely to stick with the Longstaff brothers central midfield combination which has served his team well in the past few weeks. The Manchester United game was obviously the one where the younger Longstaff burst onto the scene initially, but things didn’t go quite as well against Chelsea last time out. Still, what’s he going to do, play Jonjo Shelvey or Ki Sung-yueng instead? Shelvey has had plenty of chances to secure himself a first team spot this season, but has flattered to deceive as ever. Ki, meanwhile, simply doesn’t seem to be starter material. Bruce might as well ride things out with the two youngsters until Hayden comes back, at which point he will have a big decision to make. But, as the Magpies boss says, it’s about managing the 19-year-old correctly.