Bruce verdict on Joelinton’s No.9 shirt and Matt Ritchie transfer update

Joelinton has been told to keep wearing the famous Newcastle United No.9 shirt – despite a miserable debut season.

The Brazilian club record, £40million signing managed just two Premier League goals last season and two in the FA Cup and boss Steve Bruce says he's had a big “wake up call”.

Joelinton could be forced onto the bench this weekend against West Ham after the arrival of £20m front man Callum Wilson from Bournemouth and a period of self isolation during pre-season.

However, Toon boss Bruce has decided not to strip Joelinton of the No.9 shirt, with Wilson to don No.13.

He said: “He’s training now. He’s okay. He’ll remain with the No.9 shirt. I’ve spoken to Callum on that.

“The kid still has a big future and I think he’ll be better for last year.

"The type of character he is, I’m convinced he’ll roll up his sleeves at the challenge that lies ahead.

“It’s a big wake-up call and he’s found it difficult.

“But there are many others struggle to adapt. I could name 15-20 strikers who have struggled at clubs at the beginning.”

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Bruce has also given a transfer update insisting he is “not finished” in the market.

Senior pro Matt Ritchie has had his “head turned” by interest from relegated Bournemouth – but is staying on Tyneside for now.

Bruce confirmed: “All along with it, I wanted him to stay. It's fair to say that Bournemouth turned his head and didn't come up with the deal that he wanted and from my respect, he's staying. Whether that will change…”

Rob Holding at Arsenal is a loan target, and Florian Lejeune is available to move away on loan to regain full fitness with Alaves.

Keeper Martin Dubravka faces a month out after being “injured running in the woods at his house,” while Dwight Gayle has had a knee op and could be left out of the 25 man squad until the New Year.

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