Steve Bruce hoping to field two debutants in FA Cup clash against Oxford

Steve Bruce is hoping to throw two Newcastle new boys into FA Cup battle in Saturday’s fourth round clash with League One Oxford United.

Schalke midfielder Nabil Bentaleb, who completed his loan move on Tuesday, is expected to be involved, and Inter Milan winger Valentino Lazaro could join him if the paperwork for his temporary switch is processed in time.

The Austria international was on Tyneside on Friday morning to undergo a medical, with head coach Bruce attempting to further boost his injury-depleted squad.

He said: “I think it’s fair to say that we’ve managed to hold off a couple of clubs, because once he became available then somebody of his pedigree was always going to have a few options, and thankfully he’s chosen us.

“He’s here, we’re hoping that we can get the paperwork and everything done so he can play tomorrow.

“He’ll give us an extra something going forward. He can play in a few positions but ultimately he is an out-and-out wide player who can give us another something else down the right-hand side.”

The reinforcements have arrived in the nick of time, with Bruce’s casualty list having lengthened once again in the wake of Tuesday night’s remarkable 2-2 Premier League draw at Everton.

Wing-back Emil Krafth is facing up to six weeks on the sidelines with ankle ligament damage, while central defender Florian Lejeune, whose stoppage-time double secured a point, suffered a groin injury.

Bruce said: “Emil, unfortunately, is going to miss the next six weeks. He battled on valiantly the other night but it was a bad challenge he came under and he’s done his ankle ligaments.


“Flo picked up a groin injury scoring either the first one or the second one the other night.”

Newcastle will be roared on by a capacity crowd of 52,000 as they attempt to dispatch third-tier opposition for the second successive round, all the while conscious that Oxford dumped them out of the competition at the same stage three seasons ago.

Bruce, who alluded to Tranmere’s third-round replay victory over top-flight Watford on Thursday night, said: “We’ve got to respect Oxford for what they are, and they turned us over a couple of years ago handsomely, and as we saw last night in the FA Cup… so we must guard against that.

“But it’s a wonderful opportunity to get through.”

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