Steve Bruce is hoping “manager’s delight” Miguel Almiron can inspire Newcastle to drag themselves away from the battle for Premier League survival.
The 26-year-old Paraguay international scored twice in Tuesday night’s FA Cup fifth-round victory at West Brom to establish himself as the Magpies’ leading marksman this season with six.
Only two of those have come in league games and, with Bruce’s men having failed to score in their last four top-fight outings, he is hoping the South American can take his cup form into Saturday’s trip to Southampton.
Asked about Almiron’s appetite for hard work, Newcastle’s head coach said: “It should be a given that they all work, but his physical stats are quite breathtaking. It was West Ham away when he broke all sorts of records.
“He trains every day, he comes in with a smile, and he’s first in. He’s nine stones dripping wet if he’s that, but he’s a manager’s delight.
“He’s a good player, and I think we’ve brought him back to life a little bit playing in his best position. For me, his best position is certainly as a number 10.
“Unfortunately, because of the system we’ve had, we’ve tended to play him from the side but this has certainly helped him and means arguably our best player is playing in his best position.”
Almiron arrived on Tyneside in a £21million deal from MLS side Atlanta United in January last year and, despite turning in a series of impressive displays, did not find net until his 27th appearance for the club.
That first goal – a late winner against Crystal Palace on December 21 – has been followed by five more in the 15 games he has played since in all competitions to give him tangible reward for his endeavour.
Bruce said: “I think he lit Newcastle up before I came here – last January he was the big tonic that everybody needed.
“He then got injured, but for 12 months or so, I think everybody had been wishing him a goal. He’s a really, really good player.
“Unfortunately if you play in his position, you get judged on goals, which for me is not quite right because since I’ve been here, he’s been very, very good. He’s a wonderful team player.”
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