The five key quotes from Steve Bruce's pre-Aston Villa press conference
(Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

Steve Bruce's position as Newcastle United head coach has come under even more scrutiny after the midweek thrashing to Arsenal ensured that The Magpies long winless run continued.

Newcastle have now not won in nine games in all competitions, and the side they will be attempting to stop the rot against is Bruce's former club Aston Villa.

Dean Smith's men are undoubtedly pushing for a spot inside the European places after an impressive first-half of the season which has seen them rack up victories against the likes of Arsenal, Leicester and Liverpool.

Here are the most important responses The Toon boss made to the media in his pre-match press conference this afternoon:

Saint-Maximin back in the squad

Newcastle were presented with a huge boost ahead of tomorrow night as Bruce confirmed that Allan Saint-Maximin is back in the squad for the trip to Villa Park after full recovering from a bout with COVID-19.

"The good news for everybody is that Saint-Maximin is in the squad.

"He's trained well all week and his fitness levels are very, very good.

"We have to get the balance right and I wouldn't expect him to be starting but he'll be in the squad."

Injury concerns in the centre of defence

Bruce confirmed to the media that Federico Fernandez is ruled out Saturday night's clash, and fellow centre-backs in Fabian Schär and Ciaran Clark are also injury doubts ahead of tomorrow.

The Magpies head coach did say that Dwight Gayle has been unwell, but has not contracted COVID-19.

"Federico Fernández won't be available, Fabian Schär might be, Ciaran Clark is a doubt.

"Fernández has hamstring and muscle problems and is still going to be a while off.

"Dwight Gayle has been unwell, but his Covid tests were negative."

On what is 'my way'

After the demoralising defeat to Sheffield United, Bruce told the media he was going to start doing things his own way.

He said today that his way is to get the team playing more on the front foot, instead of defending 'deep' throughout games.

"We've defended deep and played on the counter pretty much since I've been at the club.

"What my way is to try and get us 20 or 30 yards higher up the pitch.

"We will still play a back three in some games, and a back four in others."

On Aston Villa and Jack Grealish

Bruce said that his former club and their new owners have 'invested a huge amount of money' since arriving at Villa Park.

The Newcastle head coach also gave the press an insight into how the previous owners did everything they could to keep star man Jack Grealish at the club while Villa were in the Championship.

“They’ve invested a huge amount of money.

"And, I mean, in two years I think the only player who will probably play tomorrow is Grealish.

"The owners when I was there did their utmost to make sure they weren’t going to lose their crown jewel.”

On Burnley's shock win and the league table

Fellow relegation-battlers Burnley recorded a surprise 1-0 victory against Liverpool, ending The Reds' 68-game unbeaten run at Anfield.

Bruce seemed not too concerned about The Clarets' win, and alluded that sides around the bottom of the league will pick up unlikely points as the season goes on.

"Burnley had an awful start if you remember, and now all of a sudden they found a bit of form and they've got a great result last night against Liverpool.

"Of course teams at the bottom are gonna win, if you're in the bottom half of the Premier League you're always looking over your shoulder. 

"A couple of wins, of course always helps."

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