MIGUEL ALMIRON’S place in Newcastle United’s starting line-up is under serious threat, with Steve Bruce admitting the Paraguayan forward is suffering from a crisis of confidence.

Almiron arrived on Tyneside amid a considerable fanfare when he completed a then club-record £20m move from MLS side Atlanta United last January, but while he has shown flashes of promise in the last ten months, his Magpies career is yet to really ignite.

He has still not produced a single goal or assist in his 19 outings in a Newcastle shirt, and his performance in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Chelsea was especially underwhelming.

In the opening weeks of the season, a lack of attacking alternatives meant Almiron effectively picked himself, but with Andy Carroll and Dwight Gayle both returning to full fitness, Bruce finds himself with a greater array of options as he ponders his line-up for Sunday’s home game with Wolves.

Allan Saint-Maximin will retain his starting spot after a reasonably bright display at Stamford Bridge, but Almiron’s place in the side is much less certain.

“Almiron is a very decent player, but he looks a little bit short on confidence at the moment because he hasn’t scored a goal,” admitted Bruce. “We hope that can return, but it only really returns when he gets one.”

Newcastle’s defeat, which came courtesy of a second-half strike from Chelsea full-back Marcos Alonso, saw the Magpies return to the relegation zone with a haul of eight points from their opening nine matches.

They failed to record a single effort on target as they crashed to their fifth league defeat of the season, but having been embarrassed by his side’s performance as they were thrashed at Leicester in their previous away outing, Bruce was at least satisfied with his players’ effort and enthusiasm.

“We hope that Leicester is something we won’t see again this season,” he said. “It was very difficult, especially when we went down to ten men. But I’ve seen enough resilience and attitude amongst them since Leicester to feel confident that is in the past.”