Former Leeds United and England defender Danny Mills has backed Steve Bruce to guide Newcastle United to safety this season after the signing of Joe Willock.
Willock, 21, shone for the Magpies while on loan from Arsenal for the second half of last season. The former England Under-21 ace bagged eight goals from 14 Premier League appearances. And, from a precarious position close to the relegation zone, the Tynesiders finished 12th.
There have been reports all summer that the north-east outfit were trying to bring him back on a permanent deal. And the move was finally completed last week, with Newcastle paying a reported fee of £25m.
The Londoner has inked a six-year contract at St James’ Park. And the only question for Mills was why it took so long to get a deal over the line.
“He played very, very well last season and showed how good he is,” he told Football Insider. “He obviously wants to be there which is another huge bonus for the football club. Willock wants to be there and wants to play. He’s proven that he can do it in the Premier League.
“You just think ‘Why not? Get it done’. It’s a shame they didn’t get it done earlier.”
Willock to prove difference in relegation scrap
Willock made 78 appearances in all competitions for the Gunners, scoring 11 goals. A lack of league action before Christmas last term prompted the move north.
He had enjoyed only two top-flight starts in the first half of the campaign but that all changed at Newcastle.
Bruce trusted the younger and he responded with a run of seven goals in his final seven games. That equalled Alan Shearer’s club record.
While it is clearly folly to make comparisons with the Magpies legend, the signs are good. Mills is looking forward to seeing the starlet back in action.
And he feels there is every reason for the club’s fans to be optimistic.
“Obviously he adds another attacking threat,” he added. “When he comes back in Newcastle fans, there will always be conjecture about Steve Bruce, but long-term he’ll be absolutely fine again.”
Newcastle began their season with a disappointing 4-2 home loss to West Ham United. Willock was not in the side and the manager confessed that his defence was not up to the task.
They have now been linked with a swoop for young Chelsea defender Ethan Ampadu this summer. The Blues are keen for a loan deal and that will suit the Magpies down to the ground.