Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce has again given his backing to struggling striker Joelinton as he attempts to drag himself out of the doldrums.
The 23-year-old Brazilian cut a demoralised figure at the end of Saturday’s 1-1 FA Cup draw with League One Rochdale, during which he passed up a glorious opportunity to add to the lone goal he has scored in the 22 games he has played for the club since his £40million summer move from Hoffenheim.
His efforts at the Crown Oil Arena did not go down well with a section of the travelling support, but Bruce remains firmly in his corner ahead of Saturday’s difficult Premier League trip to Wolves.
He said: “No matter how he looks, always we’ve got the statistics to prove otherwise.
“In training and on match days, his physical statistics are very, very good. He’s going through that classic scenario of a striker who can’t score a goal.
“All of that gets heaped upon them, and it’s amazing what a goal does. His best performance was Tottenham away when he scored. That one he rolled against Rochdale, we need to roll into the net and hopefully, that will get him up and started again.”
Aston Villa and Newcastle are to face off in their search for a new striker with AC Milan’s Krzysztof Piatek a target for both. It is said Villa are prepared to meet the Rossoneri’s £25million valuation of the 24-year-old Pole. And Piatek landing at St James’ Park would allow reserve forward Dwight Gayle a mid-season exit.
The Geordies are in talks with Galatasaray over the transfer of Ryan Babel. The forward, 33, would provide an added attacking threat to a Toon side desperately struggling to score goals. Newcastle have managed just 20 goals in their opening 21 Premier League games this season – only Watford and Crystal Palace have scored fewer.