STEVE BRUCE has praised Jonjo Shelvey’s reaction to being left out of the Newcastle United side earlier this season – and played down injury concerns over Allan Saint-Maximin in the wake of the Magpies’ 2-2 draw with Manchester City.

Shelvey’s long-range equaliser secured Newcastle a point after Kevin de Bruyne’s spectacular strike had threatened to earned City all three points at St James’ Park.

The midfielder was frozen out of the first-team picture earlier this season, but made a goalscoring return to action in the 3-2 win at West Ham and was influential once again this afternoon.

Bruce said: “I’ve been very pleased with Jonjo. He’s responded to what we’ve wanted to do.

“I thought their (Man City) first goal was a little bit fortunate. And when de Bruyne hits that one in, it’s typical. Thankfully, we had something to get back at them. It bodes well.”

Newcastle have now avoided defeat against Manchester City, Tottenham and Manchester United this season, but Bruce admits matches like Monday’s 2-0 defeat at Aston Villa highlight a lack of consistency that continues to hold them back.

He said: “That’s the one thing we have to address. We go up and down a little bit too quickly. Away from home we have to improve, that’s what we have to aim for. That consistency is what we strive for.

“Villa was disappointing, but we’ve got another game on Thursday (against Sheffield United) and another game on Sunday (against Southampton). There’s that many games, you’ll see a few freak results.”

Bruce is confident Saint-Maximin will be available for those games despite the Frenchman being replaced in the final ten minutes of today’s game after he went down in the Manchester City box.

However, Andy Carroll is facing a further spell on the sidelines after suffering a rib injury.

Bruce said: “Allan is sore. He had a sore on before half-time, but I’m sure he’ll be okay. Andy hurt his rib and didn’t quite make it.”