STEVE BRUCE is ready to turn Isaac Hayden’s temporary move to centre-half into a longer-term switch in order to prevent Newcastle United’s mounting defensive problems from becoming unmanageable.

The Magpies claimed a remarkable 3-2 victory over Southampton on Saturday that saw them repel a series of late attacks despite having to play with nine men, but the win came at a considerable cost as their injury problems worsened.

As well as losing Callum Wilson to a hamstring injury, Newcastle also saw Javier Manquillo sustain a suspected ankle-ligament problem that could sideline him for months and Fabian Schar suffer a knee injury that led to him having to leave the field on a stretcher.

Federico Fernandez and Jamaal Lascelles are already sidelined with muscular issues that are proving difficult to solve, so Hayden had to play the whole of Saturday’s game at centre-half despite having spent the vast majority of his senior career playing in midfield.

His performance was a key factor in Newcastle’s win, with his commanding display in the final ten minutes in particular helping prevent Southampton from claiming an equaliser, and Bruce will not be concerned if he has to continue fielding him at the heart of the back four for the foreseeable future.

“When he was a kid, he played there for Arsenal, and when I took him to Hull, I remember my chief scout at the time thought that his best position was as a centre-back,” said the Newcastle boss.

“He thought Isaac’s best position was playing as a central defender, and when he produces a performance like that, then you can understand why.

“It’s good to have, and we certainly needed him. We’re down to the bare bones, and then with losing another one with Fab Schar, it’s a ludicrous situation really.”

Both Schar and Manquillo will be assessed in the next 24 hours, but the pair look set for long-term absences given the anticipated seriousness of their problems.

Wilson’s hamstring injury should result in a shorter-term lay-off, but Newcastle will unquestionably miss their leading goalscorer given he has scored more than a third of his side’s league goals this season.

“That (the injuries) is the disappointing thing,” said Bruce. “For too long, we’ve had people missing with injury and illness. It’s been desperate at times. Unfortunately, it looks as though we’ve picked up an awful injury with Manquillo, Fab Schar has a bad knee injury and of course Callum Wilson now has a hamstring too. In that respect, we’re taking one step forward and two back."