Newcastle manager Steve Bruce was pleased to finish a tough week with a 2-0 win at Crystal Palace and is hopeful the club have managed to avoid an outbreak of Covid-19 cases.
The Magpies were without three unnamed players in London after they tested positive for coronavirus while a member of the backroom staff at St James’ Park is also self-isolating.
Despite those absentees, on top of a number of other injury issues, late goals by Callum Wilson and Joelinton at Selhurst Park ensured the visitors responded to back-to-back defeats with a hard-fought win on the road.
“It has been a tough week,” Bruce said before he was asked about avoiding an outbreak.
“We sincerely hope so. It is very difficult at the minute. We have three confirmed players and unfortunately a member of my staff.
“It is a concern and difficult to manage. We are trying our utmost to make sure we try and stay as safe as we can.
“Of course my concern is not just the welfare of the players, which is vitally important, but my members of staff too. We will do our best but it is difficult at the moment.”
A positive was the tireless display of Joelinton, who has struggled for goals since a £40million move from Hoffenheim last year but grabbed only his third in the Premier League late on in the capital.
The Brazilian raced into the area, cut inside Scott Dann and saw his shot deflect off Gary Cahill and beat Vicente Guaita.
After scoring for just the seventh time in the black and white of Newcastle, shortly after setting up Wilson’s opener, boss Bruce is hopeful this could be a watershed moment for the 24-year-old.
He added: “The one thing that he is, he has a big heart, the kid. He has had a tough time, we won’t deny that, but he is only young and is starting to adapt to the physicality of the Premier League and getting used to a new country.
“Some people take longer than others and we know he wants to do well, he never shies away from anything and he has got his rewards, so I am delighted for him.
“Of course all the headlines will go to his strike partner next to him (Wilson), but in particular I was really pleased with Joe and his all-round performance.”
Palace were left frustrated for the second time in the space of five days after a 1-0 loss at Burnley on Monday.
Wilfried Zaha was absent on both occasions after he tested positive for coronavirus and Eagles manager Roy Hodgson admitted he had been sorely missed.
“I would be frustrated if I was one of the other outfield players to have it told to me all the time that the only way we are ever going to win a game is if Wilf plays,” Hodgson said.
“But unfortunately we can’t deny the fact it has been very often the case when we have played matches, and we can’t deny at all that we have missed him and his quality in the last two games.
“Who knows, maybe had he played we would have done a little bit better, but he didn’t play and wasn’t able to play.
“And I think somewhere along the line we need to learn to accept he will not play every game or get us out of a hole every game by showing the obvious ability he has.”