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Steve Bruce prepared to drop Newcastle’s big-money forwards in search for goals

Steve Bruce has hinted he will drop one of Newcastle’s big-money signings in an effort to find the answer to their lack of goals.

The Magpies fired another blank on Saturday, their third in a row in the Premier League, in the 1-0 loss at Crystal Palace.

It means the St James’ Park club have only struck 24 times in the top flight this season, the joint-fewest amount in the division despite spending over £80million on attacking players during the last year.

While record signing Joelinton has borne the brunt of criticism for finding the net just three times, Bruce defended the performance of the Brazilian at Palace and appeared to suggest a lack of creativity from Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron was partly to blame for his profligacy.

“The way we are set up at the minute, with all the big signings, it gets them all on the pitch, but maybe we have got to change the balance,” the Newcastle manager said.

“Strikers need service too and we don’t cross it enough. We ignored him (Joelinton) too much.”

The former Hoffenheim striker went closest for the Magpies on Saturday, with a fierce effort from long-range tipped over by Vicente Guaita.

Bruce admitted he would consider “changing formation” or “changing personnel” in order to help the side rediscover a clinical touch in front of goal, with £20million man Almiron a disappointment in SE25.

Newcastle played an interchangeable 3-4-3 in south London, although it was also a 5-4-1 at times and a switch in system could occur ahead of a crucial run of fixtures for the Magpies, with three of their next four league games at home.

Another option may be to play two up top, with Bruce open to trying Dwight Gayle alongside Joelinton now the ex-Palace player is fit again.

The 29-year-old made only his second appearance in 2020 when he came off the bench against his former club after returning from a hamstring injury.

“He is an alternative to what we have got,” Bruce added. “He has always been a very good goalscorer and let’s hope he stays fit.”

The 59-year-old admitted Isaac Hayden and Matt Ritchie had been unlucky to miss out in recent games and provided positive news on Jonjo Shelvey.

Magpies top goalscorer this term has not featured since the 1-0 win over Chelsea because a muscle injury, but was set to take part in training on Sunday.