Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce conceded after their 2-0 Premier League win at Everton that the club’s bid to avoid relegation largely rested on a thin squad being at full strength in an unforgiving environment.
Ravaged by injuries and illness, Newcastle missed several key players during a nine-match barren run, having slipped perilously close to the relegation zone after collecting two points from a possible 27.
Saturday’s win at Goodison Park lifted some pressure off Newcastle and Bruce, who also praised his team and striker Callum Wilson after the striker’s brace gave the Magpies some breathing space.
“It’s been tough, but when everyone’s fit and available we’re a decent outfit,” Bruce told the BBC. “When we aren’t, it becomes a bit of a struggle.
“I knew the job was going to be difficult. I walked in with my eyes wide open. I always judge people when you’re up against it. You need to keep your dignity, your belief and if you can work a bit harder.
“I’m delighted for Callum. He’ll rightly get the headlines, but the effort from the whole squad behind him was good to see.”
Wilson, who netted his 50th and 51st Premier League goals, was delighted with the result but somewhat disappointed after missing three chances to add to his tally.
“It was important we put a positive performance together,” he said. “We’re taking one game at a time. We’ve got another big game on Tuesday (at home to Crystal Palace), they’re not getting any easier.
“I’m delighted for everyone associated with the club and to get two goals too, but I should have had a hat-trick today. I’m disappointed on a personal note.”