Newcastle boss Bruce would back Premier League circuit breaker

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce admits he would back a Premier League circuit-breaker lockdown and bring season to brief halt after coronavirus outbreak at club left some staff ‘really sick’ and some players ‘still struggling’

  • Newcastle United are among the Premier League clubs hit hardest by the virus
  • Steve Bruce is still waiting for Jamaal Lascelles and Allan Saint-Maximin to return
  • Toon boss insists players’ health must take priority in the coming weeks 

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce has insisted players’ health has to come first as the Premier League wrestles with the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Magpies head into the new year still dealing with the after-effects of an outbreak which has left key players, including skipper Jamaal Lascelles and star man Allan Saint-Maximin, battling their way back from the virus.

Newcastle’s scheduled league trip to Aston Villa earlier this month was postponed as a result and Manchester City and Fulham have since had to call off fixtures following positive tests.

Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce has seen the coronavirus outbreak hit his team hard

Skipper Jamaal Lascelles (left) and star man Allan Saint-Maximin (right) are still struggling to shake off the long-term effects of the virus

Bruce understands why there have been calls in some quarters for a circuit breaker.

He said: ‘I really, really hope that people can understand that when it strikes a footballer, yes, the vast majority of them it just washes over, but we’ve got one or two who are still struggling.

‘We’ve got one or two players who are playing who are still not 100 per cent and I’ve got staff who have been really sick with it, so we have to have the welfare of the players first.

‘If doctors or Public Health England think that (a circuit breaker is) a good idea, then I’ll go with the advice.

‘I understand that football gives everybody something to watch, but we have to think of the well-being of the players and the staff who, at this awful time, take the brunt.

‘I am witness to it, of how quickly this thing can grab a hold of any environment the way it did with us.’

Newcastle, who host in-form Leicester on Sunday, have been hit hard by the virus with midfielder Isaac Hayden and defenders Federico Fernandez and Emil Krafth among those who also tested positive.

Republic of Ireland international Ciaran Clark, who had not played a league game since February since suffering an ankle injury at Arsenal, was asked to step into the breach at the back and has performed so well since that he is in talks over a new contract.

Bruce was left impressed with the performance of Ciaran Clark (left) in the draw with Liverpool

Asked about Clark following his fine display in Wednesday night’s 0-0 draw with champions Liverpool, Bruce said: ‘Ciaran is a really, really good player who gives you a nice balance with his left foot and is fiercely competitive.

‘I remember the tackle he went into when he knew he was going to get hurt at Arsenal, but he went in for the sake of the team.

‘He’s a very, very good player. I know discussions are ongoing with his agent and I hope in January we can tie Ciaran up because I would like to keep him at the club. I think he deserves that.’

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