Steve Bruce believes his Newcastle side head into a hectic month in good shape after victory against Sheffield United.
The Magpies are up to 11th in the Premier League table and level on 19 points with the Blades, who sit in ninth position, after a 2-0 success at Bramall Lane on Thursday night.
Allan Saint-Maximin’s early header and a controversial second-half strike from Jonjo Shelvey, which went to VAR, saw Newcastle win for the third time in five matches and complete an impressive week which began with a home draw against reigning champions Manchester City.
Bruce’s team play another five times during December and the Magpies manager said: “It’s a huge month for us. It’s season-defining, I think it is for every team because there are so many games.
“We have had a really decent month and I have always said that a few results along the way helps everybody, so we’ve given ourselves a nice platform going into the busy Christmas period – which is decisive for me.
“But the spirit amongst the players and their attitude and the way they are playing has delighted me and they carried it on after running a million miles against Manchester City on Saturday. They have showed some resilience again and I am very pleased, it stands us in good stead.”
More positives for Bruce came in the shape of a first goal for the club for summer signing Saint-Maximin and Andy Carroll starting his first Premier League game since rejoining Newcastle.
“I’m absolutely delighted for Allan. I never thought he’d be getting a header at the far post, and it was a classic trademark header as well,” said Bruce.
“He’s been carrying an awful injury at the minute. He’s got an ankle injury which is not easy to look at but he has rolled his sleeves up and got out there and got his reward for that and I am delighted for him.
“I’m also very pleased for Andy. I thought that here (at Bramall Lane) a physical, big presence against what their three big centre-halves dish out was straight up Andy’s street.
“It was a decision which worked and it also gave Joe (Joelinton) a little rest as well as he hasn’t missed a minute yet and has started every game.
“Andy can be crucial for us. We’ve got somebody like Andy Carroll who can lead the line. It’s evident, and everyone can see, that he needs games but he’s got through 70 minutes and he did well.”
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