Steve Bruce has warned Newcastle not to allow in-form Brentford striker Ivan Toney to come back and shatter their Carabao Cup dreams.
The Bees’ summer signing from Peterborough, 24, has plundered 16 Sky Bet Championship goals already this season to help repay the club’s initial £5million investment in him, which could eventually double.
On Tuesday evening, Toney will line up against the Magpies, for whom he signed from Northampton as a 19-year-old in August 2015 but made only four senior appearances, in the League Cup quarter-finals with Bruce knowing he will be desperate to make a point.
The Newcastle boss said: “He’s obviously had the biggest disappointment of all of being rejected, but the way he looks at the minute, he’s playing with that burning desire to do well and prove people wrong.
“Of course, he will want to do his utmost to make sure he proves people wrong for letting him go.
“You have to say ‘well done’ to the kid. He’s done very well. He will be a threat. He’s playing with a lot of confidence.
“They’ve been a good side now for the best part of three, four, five years. They sell their centre-forward [Ollie Watkins] for £30million and buy him [Toney] for £5million or £6million or whatever it was, and he’s the top goalscorer, so they keep reproducing it and they do it very well.”
The Bees currently sit in fourth place in the Championship table after Saturday’s 3-1 win over Reading, and they will run out with high hopes of dumping the misfiring Magpies out of the competition.
Bruce’s men turned in another disjointed display in Saturday’s 1-1 Premier League draw with Fulham three days after a 5-2 defeat at Leeds, leaving already disgruntled fans even less impressed and the head coach once again in the firing line despite the ongoing impact of a Covid-19 outbreak.
Defeat at the new Brentford Community Stadium would pile on the pressure ahead of a testing holiday programme, although Bruce prefers to concentrate instead on the opportunity to end a 15-year wait to reach a cup semi-final and beyond it, a 51-year trophy drought.
He said: “It’s been far too long, as has been well documented, but we’ve given ourselves a chance.
“As always, the big teams are still there. Of late, off the top of my head, I think only Wigan have won a cup apart from the top six, if you like.
“We know how difficult it is, but let’s have a crack, let’s enjoy it and see where we get to.”