Steve Bruce insists Miguel Almiron still in his Newcastle plans

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Miguel Almiron still has a major role to play at Newcastle despite finding himself sitting on the bench as the new Premier League season got under way.

The 26-year-old Paraguay international, whose eight goals last season earned him the title of top scorer at St James’ Park, was named only among the substitutes at the London Stadium as head coach Steve Bruce paired new signing Callum Wilson with Andy Carroll in attack.

However, he responded by setting up Jeff Hendrick for the second goal in a 2-0 win after being sent on, and repeated the feat in midweek to hand Ryan Fraser a debut strike in a 1-0 Carabao Cup second-round victory over Blackburn.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s league clash with Brighton, Bruce said: “I had to make the difficult decision of not playing Almiron last week at West Ham, and he played in midweek.

“Everybody knows what I think of the boy, so it was a difficult decision, but thankfully it came off.

“It gives me food for thought, of course, and the more quality players you’ve got, then of course it makes the job a little bit easier.”

Whatever Almiron’s involvement this weekend, Bruce will hope for better than last season’s showing against Graham Potter’s Seagulls after the sides fought out two drab 0-0 draws.

The 59-year-old said with a smile: “They were total classics, if I remember. We don’t have much to beat, both clubs, to have a better spectacle than we had last year.

“They’ve got a totally different philosophy over the last year or so with Graham. He’s come in and changed their style, if you like, and changed the way they play. They’re all about possession and retaining the ball, and they do it very, very well.

“I was mightily impressed with them against Chelsea. They didn’t get the result that maybe they warranted, but overall, they did very, very well.

“We know what to expect, we know for large parts of the game they’ll have good possession of the ball because that’s what they work at all week, I would presume.”

Bruce has no fresh injury concerns with defender Ciaran Clark and midfielder Ryan Fraser having come through the Blackburn game unscathed after lengthy lay-offs, but Martin Dubravka, Fabian Schar, Matty Longstaff and Dwight Gayle are still missing.

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