Steve Bruce has challenged Newcastle to find a way to win without Allan Saint-Maximin after losing his flying frontman for a month.
The Frenchman suffered a hamstring tear during the closing stages of Sunday’s 2-1 Premier League victory over Southampton and is not expected back until the new year.
That has come as a huge blow to head coach Bruce, who had seen the £20million summer signing inspire his side to a return of seven points from its last three games ahead of Saturday’s trip to Burnley.
He said: “You just have to look at the statistics and the impact he’s made on the team and the way we set up. He gives you that threat which is vitally important to us, the way we play.
“He’s explosive and when you run the way he does, then you’re always a bit susceptible, I suppose. But look, the way he plays has lifted everybody off their seat and if you look at the results we’ve had since he’s been in the team and the way we play, he’s been crucial to it.
“But it is what it is. We can’t just say, ‘Allan’s out’. We’ve got to roll up our sleeves a little bit and find another way.”
Saint-Maximin’s loss has been compounded by doubts over skipper Jonjo Shelvey and Miguel Almiron, who have calf and hamstring problems respectively, with DeAndre Yedlin, Jamaal Lascelles, Ciaran Clark, Ki Sung-yueng – whose father has indicated he wants to leave the club in January – and Matt Ritchie also missing.
The Magpies sit 11th in the table after drawing with champions Manchester City and beating Sheffield United and the Saints, although Bruce is taking nothing for granted.
He said: “You can’t get carried away in the Premier League, you’ve just got to take it for what it is.”
Bruce knows the trip to Turf Moor will test a depleted squad to the full as he tries to get the better of opposite number Sean Dyche, who was complimentary about his Magpies counterpart at his pre-match press conference.
He said: “What you see is what you get with Sean. The feeling is mutual.
“He’s a top lad and I’m delighted that he’s done so well because there’s another one who’s had to work his way to the top, not afraid of hard work at all, and what he’s done at Burnley in particular is quite magnificent.”