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Steve Bruce cannot fault Newcastle's "effort and endeavour"

The Magpies are missing Callum Wilson, Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron.

Steve Bruce has urged his Newcastle understudies to develop a killer instinct to fire the club away from the Premier League's basement.

The Magpies' head coach endured a torrent of mixed emotions on Friday evening as a previously drab clash with Aston Villa exploded into life as it approached its conclusion.

Skipper Jamaal Lascelles ultimately snatched a 1-1 draw for Bruce's men in the fourth minute of added time after Ciaran Clark had unwittingly turned Ollie Watkins' header into his own net, but only after substitute Jacob Murphy had been denied by the crossbar as a gilt-edged chance came and went.

Bruce said: "Of course you want them to score, but you know in this division you don't get chance after chance after chance.

Newcastle United v Aston Villa – Premier League – St. James' Park
Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce (Clive Brunskill/PA)

"I've always said, you're only ever as good as your strikers and unfortunately at the minute, we've got two or three who are missing for us.

"We have got people who are absolutely trying their utmost. I can't ask for any more effort and endeavour."

Newcastle went into the game without key attacking trio Callum Wilson, Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron, who are not expected to return until after the international break at the end of this month, by which time the club's plight could well have deepened if they cannot find a fresh supply of goals.

Bruce said: "We have to find a way. We've got a little bit of light in that area because certainly when we've got that bit of quality missing, then it's obviously going to be a bit difficult."

Newcastle United v Aston Villa – Premier League – St. James' Park
Jamaal Lascelles (right) celebrates scoring for Newcastle (Stu Forster/PA)

As it stands with 10 games remaining, the Magpies are just two points clear of the drop zone after three successive draws, although they have won only two of their last 17 league games.

By contrast Villa, who were once again without star man Jack Grealish, are just five points adrift of the top six on 41 points, although head coach Dean Smith was disappointed with their showing and last-gasp concession on Tyneside.

He said: "They [Newcastle] probably created the better chances in the game, but it was just a very scrappy game, a little bit flat and lacked rhythm, if I'm honest.

"I've been talking about the whole league lacking a little bit of rhythm lately and being a little bit flat, and that's how I felt the game went."

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Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce pictured on March 7, 2021
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Thursday's key events


ROWING
· Comeback queen and super-mum Helen Glover goes for her third Olympic gold alongside Polly Swann in the women's pair final (1.30am)
· There is also a medal on offer for GB pair Emily Craig and Imogen Grant in the lightweight women's double scull final (2.10am)

SWIMMING
· As second-fastest qualifier for the final, Team GB's James Wilby is among the medal contenders in the men's 200m breaststroke (2.44am)
· Alys Thomas takes part in the women's 200m butterfly final, although he faces a difficult task to challenge for the medals (3.28am)
· Caeleb Dressel of the USA has been touted by some as the successor to Michael Phelps, and he has the chance to notch up a fourth Olympic gold in the men's 100m freestyle final (3.37am)

RUGBY SEVENS
· After Team GB's men narrowly missed out on a medal, the women get their campaign underway against the Russian Olympic Committee (3am) and New Zealand (10.30am)

HOCKEY
· It is a Great Britain vs. Netherlands double-header, with the men up first in Pool B (4.15am)
· Most eyes will be on the women's showdown between the two nations, though, as Netherlands - the world's best team - look to gain revenge on GB for defeat in the 2016 Olympic final (11am)

CANOE SLALOM
· Mallory Franklin takes part in the women's canoe semi-final, and will hope to do enough to qualify for the final later in the day (6am-8.45am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· With Simone Biles now out of the women's all-around final, the competition has been blown wide open. Team GB twins Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova are among those taking part (11.50am-2.05pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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