Newcastle United have suffered a major injury blow to Joe Willock ahead of their Premier League clash against Watford.
The Magpies have endured a difficult start to the new top-flight campaign, remaining winless in their opening five matches and currently lying 18th in the table.
Manager Steve Bruce said: “Joe Willock picked up an injury in this week, unfortunately, and Jamaal Lascelles hurt his thigh. So they, unfortunately, go on to the injured list, which makes that about five or six of our first team.
“Not that healthy, I have to say. Disappointed. Joe’s was a complete fluke, unfortunately he kicked the ground, damaged his toe. He’ll not make this week, and probably touch and go whether he’ll make next week as well.”
Make no mistake about it, being without Willock is arguably the second-biggest absence the Magpies could have faced, outside of Allan Saint-Maximin of course.
The former Arsenal starlet arrived on a permanent deal in the summer transfer window, and in his initial loan spell at St James’ Park, he showed exactly why he’s a real match-winner. He bagged eight in 14 games following his winter arrival and set a new record by becoming the youngest player in Premier League history to score in seven consecutive matches.
That ability to get into the box at the right time to finish things off is something which has been hailed by Owen Hargreaves, too, praising him after his goal-scoring display for Arsenal against Dundalk in the Europa League last season.
The former England midfielder said: “The point is, he can do so much, he gets in the box in the right place at the right time. He wants it to feet, he’s always on the half-turn, which is nice to see. Today I saw a bit more athleticism rather than just coasting in there. His overall game is really good.”
While Willock has yet to find the net so far this season, he has still shown his importance to Bruce’s side with a squad-high 4.3 tackles per game, while only Saint-Maximin has averaged more dribbles per match (SofaScore).
Without him in the starting line-up against Watford, it really looks like it will be more the same of having to rely on Saint-Maximin for a moment of inspiration.
Newcastle fans must be gutted over the injury to the 22-year-old gem, especially considering the freakish circumstances in which it came about.