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Steve Bruce insists well-being of players must come first

Steve Bruce insists well-being of players must come first
© Reuters
The Magpies have been hit hard by coronavirus over the last month.

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce has insisted players have to come first as the Premier League wrestles with the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Magpies will head into the New Year still dealing with the after-effects of an outbreak which has left key players, including skipper Jamaal Lascelles and star man Allan Saint-Maximin, battling their way back from the virus.

Newcastle's scheduled league trip to Aston Villa earlier this month was postponed as a result and Manchester City and Fulham have since had to call off fixtures following positive tests.

Bruce understands why there have been calls in some quarters for a circuit breaker.

He said: "I really, really hope that people can understand that when it strikes a footballer, yes, the vast majority of them it just washes over, but we've got one or two who are still struggling.

"We've got one or two players who are playing who are still not 100 per cent and I've got staff who have been really sick with it, so we have to have the welfare of the players first.

"If doctors or Public Health England think that's (a circuit breaker) a good idea, then I'll go with the advice.

"I understand that football gives everybody something to watch, but we have to think of the well-being of the players and the staff who, at this awful time, take the brunt.

"I am witness to it, of how quickly this thing can grab a hold of any environment the way it did with us."

Newcastle United v Liverpool – Premier League – St James' Park
Steve Bruce is hoping Newcastle can agree a new deal with Ciaran Clark, pictured (left) battling for possession with Liverpool's Sadio Mane.

Newcastle, who host in-form Leicester on Sunday, have been hit hard by the virus with midfielder Isaac Hayden and defenders Federico Fernandez and Emil Krafth among those who also tested positive.

Republic of Ireland international Ciaran Clark, who had not played a league game since February since suffering an ankle injury at Arsenal, was asked to step into the breach at the back and has performed so well since that he is in talks over a new contract.

Asked about Clark following his fine display in Wednesday night's 0-0 draw with champions Liverpool, Bruce said: "Ciaran is a really, really good player who gives you a nice balance with his left foot and is fiercely competitive.

"I remember the tackle he went into when he knew he was going to get hurt at Arsenal, but he went in for the sake of the team.

"He's a very, very good player. I know discussions are ongoing with his agent and I hope in January we can tie Ciaran up because I would like to keep him at the club. I think he deserves that."

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General view of Leicester City's King Power Stadium taken on September 22, 2018
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States19201352
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia11151137
Great BritainGreat Britain9101231
Today's Olympic highlights header

Sunday's key events

· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
Todays Game Header Right
Scottish Premiership
Taca da Liga
Pre-Season Friendlies
Belgian Pro League
Swiss Super League
Russian Premier League
Ukrainian Premier League
Swedish Allsvenskan
Danish Superliga
Belarusian Premier League
Major League Soccer
Copa Diego Maradona
Uruguayan Primera Division
Liga MX

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