When fully fit the Magpies boss has Jamaal Lascelles, Fabian Schar, Ciaran Clark, Federico Fernandez, Paul Dummett and Florian Lejeune available to him at the heart of the defence. However, the captain’s recent injury has opened the door for others in that group to step into the limelight.
Bruce is relieved to have so many options to replace his crocked skipper: “That is the big key to it,” he told The Chronicle. “We are blessed with six centre-backs.
“Sometimes it’s not very healthy in terms of trying to manage that situation as it is a selection headache. They are all in their own right good players.”
There aren’t many areas of this Newcastle squad that you can point to and say that they are particularly strong depth-wise. However, centre back is definitely one of them. Bruce has got six Premier League-quality centre halves to choose from, a luxury not afforded most top flight bosses. Typically there’s four to narrow down into the two in a back four, but because Newcastle play with a three-man central defensive unit Bruce has got six good options to choose from. Obviously that has now been reduced to five by Lascelles’ injury, but with Schar and Lejeune set to be back in first team action after the international break, the Magpies are well covered at present. Now the question for the Toon chief is who does he start in his centre back roles against Aston Villa next time out. Clark and Fernandez would appeared to be nailed on given their fantastic recent form, and so the question then becomes who out of Dummett, Schar and Lejeune joins them. At the moment you’d have to say that the sensible money is with the Switzerland international.