Steve Bruce has challenged his strikers to fill Callum Wilson’s boots after having to write off his star man for eight weeks.
Summer signing Wilson has scored 10 goals for the Magpies since his £20million arrival from Bournemouth, but a severe hamstring tear suffered during the first half of last Saturday’s battling 3-2 win over Southampton left him facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Fellow frontmen Joelinton, Dwight Gayle and Andy Carroll have just three Premier League strikes between them to date this season, but it is they to whom Bruce will now turn.
The head coach said: “It’s for anybody to step up, the challenge is there of course. We all know what Dwight is capable of. He’s been racked with injuries, unfortunately, so we hope that he can stay well and stay fit.
“We know he’s capable, and the same goes for Joelinton, Andy Carroll… let’s hope somebody can come in. We know they’re capable. It’s a big opportunity for somebody to stand up to it.
“They are going to be big shoes to fill because of the job he’s done over the last few months here. In all of it, it’s always somebody else’s opportunity, which let’s hope they can grasp.”
Bruce will also hope the fit-again Allan Saint-Maximin, Ryan Fraser and Miguel Almiron can also chip in, with the Paraguay international in particular having done just that in recent weeks.
Three of his five goals for the season have come in his last four games, two of them against the Saints – the first took a wicked deflection off defender Jan Bednarek – and Bruce is looking for more of the same from a man who has benefited from the more attacking approach the Magpies have taken in recent weeks.
He said: “He’s been here a couple of years now and it was a year before he scored his first goal, if you remember. I think he’s played very, very well of late, Miggy.
“As I’ve said many, many times now, my job would be easier if everybody was like Almiron. He’s an absolute delight to coach, a delight to manage, works hard, gets stuck into it, great pro, great lad and he deserves everything that comes his way.
“The change in system over the last few weeks has certainly benefited Almiron, that’s for sure, because he’s been very, very good of late, so let’s hope that can continue.”
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