JUST one goal and one assist might have been recorded in more than 57 hours of football by Newcastle United’s front three, but head coach Steve Bruce is determined to stick with the misfiring trio when Manchester City head to St James’ Park today.

Even though Dwight Gayle and Andy Carroll are pushing Bruce for a starting spot, the Magpies boss is convinced that Joelinton, Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximim can help the team – with or without a goal.

And Bruce feels it is a matter of time when the three expensive foreign buys do find the net, having seen them all do it regularly in training and threaten to do it in Premier League matches too.

Joelinton, a record £40m buy from Hoffenheim, is the only one of that group to have scored this season and that was the winner at Tottenham in August, while Almiron’s drought dates back to the moment he signed last January in a £21m move from Atlanta United – more than 1,800 minutes ago.

But Bruce will not be changing the personnel in his front-line to face Manchester City this lunch-time.

The Newcastle boss said: “Last week against Aston Villa, yes, you could single out the front three, but I didn’t think as a team, which is the most important thing for me, we played well enough and do enough.

“The previous few weeks, the front three haven’t scored, but they’ve contributed to the team, especially West Ham and Bournemouth. On another day, they all could have scored. I understand the question, but in Dwight’s case, he’s only been here (training) about a month, and Andy’s Andy. Yes, there’s scope, but up until last week I’ve been very pleased.”

And Bruce thinks Joelinton, Almiron and Saint-Maximim have the talent to start scoring soon, despite the growing calls for at least one of those to be replaced from the supporters.

“They don’t miss here. It’s like practising penalties. A pro will score nine out of ten out there. A different pro might score three out of ten. You can’t replicate it,” said Bruce.

“Almiron, we thought ‘great, he’s got the winner for Paraguay. It’ll give him that little bit of confidence’, which a good striker needs, but, unfortunately, it hasn’t happened for him. I believe Almiron, and I wasn’t here, lit up Newcastle in January.

“From the moment he burst through against Huddersfield and dinked the goalkeeper and it hit the post - there are so many times where it’s hit the post, hit the bar or the goalkeeper’s made a great save.

“The frustration is for all of us, but, for me, it’s all about the team. What I’ve got at my disposal, I’ve been quite happy with the performances of Almiron in particular. I think he’s got the best physical data. He works so hard for the team it’s incredible, which, for me, is what it’s all about.”

Even though he is staying faithful to that misfiring triumvirate, Bruce is not about to let Gayle head out again in January like he did last season when he fired West Brom to the play-offs.

“I don’t want to lose him. I made it plain in the summer that I don’t want to lose Dwight Gayle. Unfortunately, he’s been injured up until the last month,” said Bruce.

“I see him at the moment knocking on the door because the more he’s training, and he’s got an infectious enthusiasm about him on the training ground, so I don’t want to lose him, that’s for sure. I can’t see him leaving in January, no.”

And the Newcastle boss has singled out 22-year-old Sean Longstaff as a reason to remember that how inexperienced Almiron, Saint-Maximim and Joelinton are.

“The big thing for me is they’re all young, they’re still learning their trade to a degree,” said Bruce. “If I said to you they’re the same age as Sean, who’s played 12 times, then it puts it into perspective a little bit.

“They can only get better, they can only learn. We think that in Joe at times – for me, it was a free-kick against him and he’s got to learn how to win that free-kick a bit better, and somebody like Andy can teach him that.

“Look, the question is always going to be about the front three because we’ve invested a lot of money in them. A week ago I was delighted with them against Bournemouth and the way they were against West Ham, they were terrific, absolutely, so we’ve got to persevere and keep getting the best out of them if we can.”

Bruce will be looking to bring back Longstaff into the starting line-up to face City, while he has nor ruled out the energy of his brother Matty either knowing how that helped deliver three points against Manchester United last month.

He said: “I’ll be using the squad. We’ve played 14 times now and I’ve been here four months. All of a sudden we’ve got seven games in 30 days or so, it’s a hell of an ask. It’s non-stop, so I will use the squad. It’s good to see Longy back from his suspension.”

Bruce also revealed that Newcastle will not be having a Christmas get-together this year - even though he has not officially told his squad they can’t have one.

“I don’t think there’ll be time for a Christmas party, but we’re not banning anything. We will wait until the January sales!” said Bruce.

“We’re very fortunate in what we do but Christmas time we have to be at work. So while everyone else is enjoying themselves, we’ll be here.

“There will be time, hopefully in January, when we can have a do together. But with the games coming up, I don’t think there’ll be any Christmas parties.”