Steve Bruce has tipped Joelinton to “only get better” after he returned from the three-month break with a goal for Newcastle.
Newcastle returned to action in the best possible way, as they claimed a convincing 3-0 win over European-chasing Sheffield United.
Allan Saint-Maximin and Matt Ritchie got on the scoresheet in the second half, before there was an important goal for struggling Joelinton – who had missed a good chance in the first half.
The win means there are now fewer points between Newcastle and the European places, than the relegation zone.
Bruce has been a divisive figure at St James’ Park, and noted the irony of his biggest Premier League win of the season being played out behind closed doors.
Bruce joked after the game: “My staff said to me it could only happen to me. Win 3-0 and nobody is here to see it.
“After the restart the one thing you want to do is get off to a good start. We’ve got our big players playing at the top of the pitch and as we’ve seen today they can be a threat.”
One of those attacking players was Joelinton, who looked like he had missed his chance to emerge from lockdown with a goal after his first half miss. However, the striker made up for it near the end with just his second Premier League goal of the season.
Of the £40m investment, Bruce added: “We’re all delighted for him.
“He probably suffered more in the lockdown. He had no family over and he was stuck in an apartment somewhere.
“It’s been difficult for him but I’m delighted for him because he’s a really good pro and he can only get better.”