Newcastle boss Steve Bruce made aware of online messages wishing him dead

Damian Spellman, PA

Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce revealed people have wished him dead on social media amid mounting concern over online abuse.

The 60-year-old, who does not use social media, has been told by his children that he has been targeted as he battles to win over his critics on Tyneside.

His comments come after numerous footballers have reported receiving online racist abuse while Premier League referee Mike Dean was sent death threats following his involvement in two controversial incidents.

Mike Dean has asked not to be selected for this weekend's Premier League fixtures
Mike Dean has asked not to be selected for this weekend’s Premier League fixtures (Mike Egerton/PA)

An open letter from football’s major governing bodies released on Thursday called on social media platforms to do more to stamp out abuse, with Bruce later revealing the comments he has had to deal with.

Bruce said: “I don’t go on (social media), but of course people close to me do and they are sensitive towards their father, of course. Yep, I’ve had that to deal with.

“We’ve got to police it better and there are some vulnerable people out there. When I see the nature of some of it, it’s totally and utterly vile. Some of the stuff I’ve had has been obscene. You feel the hatred and something has to be done.

“When I see an experienced referee – whatever you might think of Mike Dean, nobody deserves that. He gets a decision wrong and it was in the last 30 minutes of the game and nothing really hinged on it, but he feels the need to have to step down this weekend.

“For everybody, these big companies have to police it better and find out who these idiots and morons are who send this vile abuse and make them be punished.

“The abuse I’ve had, death threats and all this sort of stuff – when I see the referee become a target for it because he has made a mistake, people threatening his life, it’s absolutely obscene and totally ridiculous.”

Asked about the nature of the abuse he had received, Bruce said: “I’m not sure how far back the abuse goes, but I just know that in conversations with my family over the last few days when we’ve been talking about the Mike Dean situation, it was brought to my attention that I’ve had it too.

“It’s really horrible stuff, which I couldn’t really get my breath with, really, things like someone saying they hope I die of Covid and all of this.”

Meanwhile, Bruce has revealed striker Callum Wilson will be sidelined for up to eight weeks by the hamstring tear he suffered during Saturday’s 3-2 win over Southampton.

Callum Wilson could be missing for two months
Callum Wilson could be missing for two months (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Wilson, who has scored 10 goals for the club since his £20million summer switch from Bournemouth, limped off before half-time and scans have since revealed the full extend of the damage.

Bruce said: “We hoped it was a grade one, something like two or three weeks. Unfortunately, it’s worse than that, so we’ll have to be without him for the best part of six weeks, eight weeks.

“We’ll not put a timescale on it, of course, but it’s a bad tear in his hamstring, so it’s devastating news for all of us, of course.”

Wilson later vowed to bounce back from the setback, posting on his official Twitter account: “Disappointed that I’m gonna have to miss the next few months due to this hamstring. Just another bump along the road that I will come back fitter and stronger from!”

Defenders Fabian Schar and Javier Manquillo are also likely to be missing for up to eight weeks with the knee and ankle injuries they picked up respectively during the same game.

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