AMID all the furore surrounding Newcastle United off the pitch, there’s issues for Steve Bruce to try and resolve off it as well.

In opening Premier League defeats this season, ahead of tomorrow’s testing visit to Tottenham Hotspur, the performances have been punctuated by issues which have raised plenty of questions and concerns.

Against Arsenal, there was the confusion surrounding the second-half introduction of substitute Jetro Willems when he was thrown on in central midfield, moved to the left and was instantly caught out as the Gunners scored the only goal.

At Norwich last weekend, there was the problem in attack of how to get the best out of Joelinton and Miguel Almirion, both as individuals as a pairing.

Add in the mix is the midfield conundrum involving Jonjo Shelvey. Inspirational and frustrating in equal measure, those calls for him to be part of the England squad are a million miles away.

“When you lose a game you can either change formation or the individuals,’’ mused Bruce. “For large periods against Arsenal we gave as good as we got against a very good team.

“I don’t think it was anything to do with tactics or formations against Norwich. I think it was collectively, individually, we didn’t do enough - that was pretty evident for all of us to see.’’

He added: “The players have accepted the level of performance was nowhere near good enough. They’ve trained great all week. Things are difficult, of course they are.

“Maybe I was too honest after the game, maybe I could have flanneled it. But we didn’t play well enough, end of story. Now it’s up to me to work on what we’re doing and try to produce a performance.’’

Joelinton arrived as a club record signing in the summer. Some £40m was spent on the attacker from Hoffenheim. Coming months after the club broke its long-standing record in landing Almiron from the MLS and there should be goals in the side.

Almiron has yet to score or overly impress since his January arrival. Joelinton missed a free header at Carrow Road last week.

Of Joelinton, Bruce said: “He’s only young. He played a lot on the left-hand side for Hoffenheim and I saw him playing against Man City in the Champions League in that position. He’s young enough to go and learn. He could have scored against Arsenal. But I think we have to get Almiron involved higher up the pitch. It’s always going to be the most difficult part of Premier League football is scoring a goal.

So is Shelvey part of problem or solution?

“He’s like everybody at the minute,’’ mused Bruce. “I haven’t even seen Christian Atsu play. He’s part of a squad … I’m assessing them all. Shelvey is a very good player. I’ve picked him in the last couple of games and that will continue to be. I don’t see him as a problem. He’s a very good player.

“I think he can play in a couple of positions. That’s for sure. He’s a very good footballer, we all know that. I’ve never looked at it as a problem. I’ve always thought it was a bonus when you’ve got a good footballer. Of course, you’ve got to find the right balance in the team.”