Bruce on Newcastle hero: ‘How could I leave him out?’

Joe Williams

Steve Bruce has admitted he cannot leave teenager Matty Longstaff out of the Newcastle team to face Chelsea on Saturday.

The 19-year-old midfielder was the Magpies’ match-winner after being handed his top-flight debut against Manchester United before the international break, smashing home the game’s only goal at St James’ Park after being paired with his older brother Sean in the engine room.

Bruce was thrilled by the younger Longstaff’s reaction to the challenge, and by the beaming television interview the brothers gave later.

Asked if he would keep his place at Stamford Bridge, Newcastle’s head coach said: “How could I leave him out?

“Well, you can imagine what the kid’s been like – it’s like a kid in a sweet shop. That’s why I picked him.

“His interview beamed out of the television, what he’s all about. It brought a refreshing humility to us all again, and it was a wonderful debut from the kid.”

The teenager’s contract is due to expire at the end of the current season and with Manchester United having already expressed their interest in Sean, the Magpies are keen to tie up both brothers as soon as possible.

Bruce said: “The one thing we all don’t want is to lose your best young players, so I’m sure we’ll be all out to get that tied up – and his brother, which is vitally important.”

The win over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men raised the mood on Tyneside, but the club faces perhaps an even bigger test this weekend at Chelsea, who have won their last four games in all competitions with youngsters Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham also making an impact in the top flight under Frank Lampard.

Bruce, whose last game was his 400th as a Premier League manager, is delighted to see the former England midfielder making his mark after a tough start back at the club he served with such distinction as a player.

He said: “He’s a great lad, Frank, and he was a great, great player, so that experience alone gives him that respect. He’s adored by everybody there, so I think that will afford him a bit of time.

“The big thing all of us tend to forget is to try, if you possibly can, to enjoy it. It’s a really tough, tough job at times – you have many sleepless nights – and it’s a lonely one too, but my bit of advice would be just to try to replicate what he did as a player, which was quietly get on with his job and let the rest do the talking.”