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Steve Bruce has urged Newcastle’s record signing Joelinton to develop a selfish streak to establish himself as a Premier League marksman.
The £40million Brazilian has endured two difficult seasons in England since his arrival from Hoffenheim, but two of the 24-year-old’s paltry return of five top-flight goals have come in his last two home games, a 2-2 draw with Tottenham and a 3-2 win over West Ham.
As he prepared his side for Saturday’s trip to reigning champions Liverpool, head coach Bruce said: “He’s had it tough, let’s be brutally honest, and I think a lot of that comes with the price tag, which he didn’t set.
“He’s young and he’s had two years in the Premier League now, so I think he’s learned exactly what it is and how difficult it is.
“What he’s got to try to get into his psyche is that mindset that no matter who you play as a striker, you’re judged on goals. He’s a really good team player, but he has to get that selfish mentality that a striker has.
“The one thing with Joe is he’ll never give up, and in all of it where a lot of people would have ‘taken the water in’ as you used to say, he stays with it.
“He trains every day, he works hard for the team, he’s popular in the dressing room, really popular, so I hope that he can get that mindset to score more often because we’ve just seen him score two in two and we’ve been waiting for him to do that for a long time.”
Joelinton’s goals have helped boost the Magpies’ survival hopes with back-to-back wins over Burnley and the Hammers having taken them eight points clear of the drop zone with six games remaining.
However Bruce, acutely aware that the next four fixtures are against Liverpool – where they have not won since 1994 – Arsenal, Leicester and Manchester City, insists their tally of 35 is not yet enough.
Asked if they were almost there, he replied: “How many do we need? I don’t think 35 is enough, although it has been enough in the last couple of seasons.
“We’ve got six games left, we’ve got some really tough games ahead starting with Liverpool tomorrow, but I don’t think 35 is enough, so I still think we need at least another win.”
Bruce will at last have in-form Frenchman Allan Saint-Maximin available at Liverpool after his recovery from the ankle injury which promoted his premature exit last weekend.