Steve Bruce risks being left embarrassed by unleashing the Longstaff brothers, Sean and Matty, when Newcastle United host Crystal Palace on Tuesday night.
Both midfielders remained at St. James’ Park following Monday’s transfer Deadline Day after being offered moves away from Tyneside.
Matty Longstaff is thought to have been a last-ditch target for Championship side Watford. The Toon were also made aware of interest from the Hornets in Sean, whom Valencia had seen a loan-to-buy offer for rejected over the weekend.
Matty opposed a move to Vicarage Road, which emerged as one of several potential destinations for the 20-year-old, as he vowed to stay and fight for his place at Newcastle, per Sky Sports’ Keith Downie.
The Toon products now face even greater competition for minutes in the North East, after Newcastle finalised a deal on Deadline Day to bring in Arsenal’s Joe Willock to spend the rest of the season under Bruce’s tutelage on loan.
Willock had been a substitute for much of the Gunners’ season with manager Mikel Arteta last awarding the 21-year-old talent a starting role in November and with him playing only 14 minutes of top-flight football in 2021.
Willock will be unable to make his Newcastle debut when United host Crystal Palace on Tuesday night, having been signed beyond the deadline for his eligibility to be active. But Bruce would risk being left embarrassed by turning to one or both of the Longstaff brothers in his place.
Bruce spent all of January searching for a new box-to-box midfielder as he clearly does not consider the Magpies products to be able to offer what he desires on a consistent basis, and he has now brought Willock in on loan with the hope that the Arsenal prospect will be able to inject the pace often lacking in his pedestrian unit.
It would be calamitous for Bruce to then recall either of the Longstaff brothers against the Eagles as Newcastle looked so much better without the duo as Newcastle won at Goodison Park at the weekend. Changing his winning midfield now would be an odd decision, but if such a change comes down the line, it should be Willock who is the next cab off the rank, not either of the Longstaff brothers.
Bruce should stick with the side that beat Everton last time out, fitness permitting, and then have Willock available to play a part against Southampton at the weekend.