Steve Bruce confirms Joe Willock six-year deal in pre-West Ham press conference
Steve Bruce and Joe Willock - photo credit - Marc Atkins/Getty

Steve Bruce addressed the media this morning ahead of Newcastle United’s season opener with West Ham United this Sunday.

Joe Willock looks set to sign on the dotted line for a six-year contract and unsurprisingly he was a major talking point.

Bruce also addressed the goalkeeping situation, any further potential incomings and issuing an injury update ahead of the opening game.

Willock arrives!

The Joe Willock transfer saga has rumbled on for most of the summer but it seems that United finally have their man.

A fee in the region of £20m plus addons was agreed and now the player has agreed terms and is on Tyneside to complete the move.

Bruce said: “He is having a medical as we speak, so hopefully that comes through ok and he will be able to train with us this afternoon.”

“We made it pretty obvious that if Joe was going to become available, then we would try and secure him.” 

Bruce also commented on the importance of the permanent deal by saying: “Obviously, we explored the loan situation to begin with because that would certainly have suited Joe and us but when that wasn’t possible, we’ve had to go and buy him which is great for us.

“The key is that Joe wanted to come back.”

Bruce and co. now face a race against time to try and get the deal finalised by midday so he can be registered for the game against the Hammers.

Willock scored an incredible eight goals in his successful loan spell on Tyneside and Toon fans will surely be overjoyed at him returning on a permanent basis.

Woodman gets the nod

Freddie Woodman will get his chance to shine in between the sticks on Sunday.

"Martin's (Dubravka) not fit and it doesn't look as if Karl Darlow is going to be right after having Covid. 

Freddie Woodman will get his chance. He's waited patiently, he's played for the last two years so it's his big opportunity."

Bruce also divulged some eye opening information about Karl Darlowwho he said was hospitalised with the virus and lost over a stone in weight as a result.

Thankfully, Darlow is on the mend but it may be a while before he is available for selection.

Woodman has enjoyed two brilliant seasons on loan with Swansea City and that experience should hold him in good stead for his Premier League bow.

Any more transfer movement?

The Magpies’ head coach seemed as surprised as many of the supporters that the club had managed to pull off a permanent deal for Willock and he was full of praise for the hierarchy.

“I think it’s fair to say that from the club’s point of view, they have gone above and beyond where I thought they were going too.”

Bruce refused to rule out any further dealings, but he didn’t come across too hopeful that he would be able to add further to his current squad.

“Never say never but we do have a full quota of 25 players in the squad at the moment but if something does come available then I’ll ask the question.”

He was also asked about the loan market which he admitted was a possibility, but it doesn’t seem like anything is imminent on that front either.

Injury round up

Other than the well documented goalkeeping problems, United are going into the new season relatively unscathed with Paul Dummett being the only notable absentee.

Bruce said: "Aside from the goalkeeping situation, the only one out is Paul Dummett who won't make it on Sunday. Everyone else is fit and available."

Dummett was of course a big part of last season’s rapid improvement in form towards the back end of the season and as such he will of course be a big miss to the side but fans will be enthused about the availability of star men Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin.

The pair did not get a full pre-season under the belts with the former having hamstring problems and the latter coming down with an illness.

United are a completely different proposition with the dynamic duo in the side and this news gives Toon fans heading to St James’ Park on Sunday an extra boost.

The aim for the new season?

Bruce was also quizzed on the aims for the season and he spoke about the importance of progression in his response.

“The big thing for us is to try and improve on last year. We had a really good start and a really good finish. 

“We had an awful wintertime. We need to be a little bit luckier with injuries that’s for sure.”

If Newcastle can avoid the same injuries that they had to key players that they suffered last season, there’s no reason why they can’t look to go better than their 12th placed finish and push for the top 10.

The quality of United’s attacking flair players has the potential to scare any defence in the division and the acquisition of Willock from Arsenal will only help this.

Bruce also spoke about the fans being back and couldn’t hide his excitement about welcoming a full crowd back to St James’ Park for the season opener.