Steve Bruce has revealed Newcastle United face a defensive crisis ahead of Tuesday’s vital fixture with Leeds United after an array of injury issues.
Leeds travel to St James’ Park on Tuesday hoping to arrest an alarming run of form that has seen them lose their last three matches without scoring.
It was not long ago that Marcelo Bielsa’s side showed their attacking prowess by smashing Newcastle 5-2 at Elland Road on December 16 but that seems like a distant memory now.
However, speaking to Sky Sports after his team were easily beaten 2-0 by Aston Villa on Saturday, Bruce expressed concern ahead of the visit of Leeds, saying: “We have got a problem at centre back, we have got three or four missing unfortunately there so we hope that clears up well.”
He added: “There has got to be a certain way that we go about our work, especially we have got to tighten up defensively still and that’s got to be the key to it.”
Central defenders Federico Fernandez and Ciaran Clark were both absent as Villa picked apart Newcastle with ease and split their defence on numerous occasions, a worrying sight for Toon fans and it marked their 10th game in a row without a win.
Best fixture to bounce back
The Leeds attack must be licking their lips at the prospect of coming up against a depleted Newcastle defence.
They might be short of confidence after enduring a three-game barren run but surely this is the perfect fixture for them to turn it around and silence the growing critics.
Scoring five past their upcoming opponents less than two months ago must give them optimism ahead of this fixture.
Star striker Patrick Bamford scored the opener in that game but has only scored one goal in the subsequent five games, a run he will be desperate to change.
Midfielder Isaac Hayden lined up as a makeshift centre back for Newcastle at Villa Park in a worrying display for Bruce’s side.
There were also some horrific mistakes on show with Fabian Schar and Karl Darlow both making a mess in the build-up to Ollie Watkins’ opener for Villa.
Against a side so devoid of belief and under severe pressure the Whites attack can have no excuse for not putting Newcastle to the sword on Tuesday.
In other Leeds United news, Jamie Redknapp gives his prediction ahead of the trip to St James’ Park.