The five key quotes from Steve Bruce's pre-Everton press conference
Photo credit:(Getty Images/Serena Taylor)

Newcastle United welcome Everton to St James' Park on Sunday afternoon as they go in search of their first Premier League win in three matches.

The Magpies come into the game on the back of a smash-and-grab point against Wolves last weekend, meanwhile high-flying Everton suffered their first defeat to the season, going down 2-0 to Southampton last week.

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce has been giving his thoughts ahead of the meeting with Carlo Ancelotti's men.

"We know that we're in for a difficult game"

Everton perhaps surprised a few over the summer with the amount of investment that was put into the side.

Bruce mentioned the Toffees' midfield as one area of significant improvement with Champions League quality players Allan and James Rodriguez being two prime examples, albeit with the latter missing out on this one due to a knock.

Newcastle have often found recent matches against Everton and their manager knows that they will have to be at their best to take anything from the game. 

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"Isaac Hayden is fine"

Bruce had to field a somewhat unorthodox midfield at Molineux last week due to a number of injuries in that area of the pitch.

He hopes to welcome back Isaac Hayden this weekend after he has had a full week of training following his soft tissue problem, with the likes of Sean and Matty Longstaff also in contention for the match.

The only certain absentee is Jonjo Shelvey who looks to be out for a number of weeks to come. 

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"We've got one major concern which is Jamaal Lascelles"

It looks as if the Newcastle captain is set to miss out for a few weeks after picking up a foot injury in the build-up to the Everton match.

Despite not always being the best performer so far this campaign, Newcastle will likely miss his leadership at the back and it remains to be seen who will take the armband with Shelvey also ruled out.

Thankfully for Bruce, he has a number of options in that area of the pitch with Fabian Schär and Federico Fernandez both available, with Ciaran Clark and Paul Dummett also returning from their injuries. 

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"They key is getting the balance right and still being a threat the other way"

The Magpies were undoubtedly much more resilient at the back in the draw with Wolves last Sunday, with it taking a special strike from Raul Jimenez to break the deadlock before grabbing a late equaliser.

What the Magpies were missing was that quality going forwards which it could be argued is something that they now have with the summer acquisitions of the likes of Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser.

If Bruce can find that balance, things may improve for the Magpies who have had a frustrating and inconsistent start to the 2020/21 season.

"We'll have to be at our best"

Everton have undoubtedly been the surprise package of this season so far, suffering their first defeat last weekend against Southampton.

That appeared to be a blip from the Toffees who were certainly far from their best, but Bruce is now expecting a reaction from his opponents.

He believes that his side will have to play to the best of their ability if they are able to take anything from the game against Ancelotti's side.