After spending the last two seasons on loan at West Brom and Sheffield Wednesday, Jacob Murphy may have felt his career at Newcastle was slowly coming to an end.
The former Norwich starlet had made just 34 Premier League appearances in total for the Magpies since joining, and his future looked bleak when he wasn’t even named in the match-day squad for the opening two games of the season.
But a couple of impressive performances in the Carabao Cup saw him given his chance in the top-flight, and he’s since started the last three Premier League games.
And seeing him score a dramatic equaliser against Wolves earlier this season, Bruce was quick to insist that sending him out on loan again was never in his plans.
He said: “He was arguably our best player today and I’m delighted for him. He had a big loan at Sheffield Wednesday last year and that did him the world of good.
“I never contemplated it (a loan move) from the first week he was back. He was a different player. Certainly physically he’s come back in really good condition.”
Murphy’s performances in the Premier League have come as a right wing-back though, and he may feel like he could offer a lot more in his more natural attacking position.
And with Bruce confirming that Ryan Fraser has been ruled out for the game against Chelsea on Saturday, it’s surely the perfect time for the Newcastle boss to unshackle him.
As well as his goal against Wolves, Murphy was also one of the highest-rated players in the win against Everton, and giving the in-form ace an opportunity to shine further forward could be the kind of masterstroke that sees him wreak havoc against Frank Lampard’s side.
When one door closes, another door opens. Fraser’s injury could be the beginning of Murphy finally realising his true potential.