HE might have scored on the last three occasions when he left the bench, but Steve Bruce fully understands why Joe Willock does not want to be saddled with the tag of being Newcastle United’s ‘super-sub’.

Having already claimed dramatic late goals against Tottenham and West Ham, Willock completed a remarkable hat-trick on Saturday when his stoppage-time strike at Anfield secured a 1-1 draw with Liverpool.

Willock struck moments after Callum Wilson had controversially had an effort ruled out for handball, with his goal lifting Newcastle to the 36-point mark and opening up a nine-point gap to the relegation zone with just five games of the season to play.

The Arsenal loanee has proved adept at changing the course of a game after coming on to the field, but Bruce understands why he is far from happy at his continued absence from the starting line-up.

“Joe was devastated when I told him he was not playing, but he has come on in the last three games and scored,” said the Newcastle boss, whose side have now lost just one of their last eight games. “I am delighted for him. I think he will hate the tag (of being a super-sub) because yesterday, I devastated him by not putting him in the team.

“I told him the reasons why, then he picks up a knock in training and it was touch and go whether he makes the bench, so to come on and have that impact again, I’m delighted for him. To get three in three, I’m delighted.”

Bruce will attempt to sign Willock on a permanent basis in the summer, although Arsenal will drive a hard bargain if they decide to cash in on the England Under-21 international.

Newcastle host Arsenal on Sunday, but Willock is unable to feature against his permanent employers. There is a chance Fabian Schar could be involved before the end of the season, with the centre-half having returned to light training.