STEVE BRUCE expects to have Callum Wilson available for Newcastle United’s trip to Crystal Palace on Friday night – but the Magpies manager admits it does not matter who is playing up front for his side if they continue to concede costly early goals.

Bruce’s side slipped to a 2-0 defeat at home to Chelsea on Saturday, with the Blues claiming a tenth-minute lead when Federico Fernandez put Mason Mount’s cross through his own net.

It was the fifth time the Magpies had conceded in the opening ten minutes of a game this season – they had done exactly the same thing in their previous game against Southampton – and they would have shipped two early goals at the weekend had Karl Darlow not produced a fine save to deny Timo Werner.

Newcastle’s sluggish starts are proving costly, and Bruce will be demanding his players produce a much brighter opening when they return to action at Selhurst Park.

“It’s something we’re going to have to address,” said the Newcastle boss. “Before we even start, we’re a goal down, so we’ll have to have a look at that and start better.

“It is a frustration, and we’ve got to make sure we get back to that defensive organisation that keeps you in a game.

“We were better in the second half and we went higher up the pitch and had some big moments, but unfortunately we couldn’t take one and Chelsea punished us with a poor goal that we gave away.

“I’m frustrated because we can’t get a result. I make no excuses, but we’ve played three of the top six in the last few weeks. It’s been difficult, but there was a lot to like about that second-half performance.”

Wilson was not involved in the squad at the weekend, having damaged his hamstrings in the defeat at Southampton that preceded the international break.

In his absence, Joelinton turned in yet another ineffective display, but with Wilson having returned to light training at the end of last week, Bruce expects to have his leading goalscorer back in the starting line-up against Palace.

“I couldn’t risk him (against Chelsea), because of the risk of a hamstring and missing for the next six weeks,” said Bruce. “We’ve erred on the side of caution and we hope he’ll be available for us next week.

“One of the reasons why we bought him was to add some goals for us, which he’s obviously done.

“We’ve now got two or three getting back to help that situation (Dwight Gayle, Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie are also approaching a first-team return), and obviously Callum being one of them.”