Steve Bruce has insisted he is trying to help Newcastle United evolve from the ultra defensive mindset instilled into his players in the last two years.

Bruce’s side netted three times at Oxford in the FA Cup in the aftermath of stinging criticism over negative tactics and shape.

But Bruce feels his team are edging closer to the team he wants to see going forward.

Bruce had vowed in August to go on the front-foot but later accepted his players weren’t ready to make such a dramatic change.

He said: “We’ve got two wingers playing up top and a midfielder playing off the front.

“We’ve had to try to do something a bit different because of the problems we’ve got.

“Over the last few weeks, we’ve had criticism and all the rest of it.”

Watch: Fans chant for Alan Shearer at Oxford

Bruce also reflected on some of the criticism he’d been on the end of in recent days.

He said: “If you’re the manager of Newcastle, you’re going to get criticised. We’ve had problems which have been quite remarkable.

“That’s our 15th game in eight weeks, and to be without ten or 12 senior players, it’s quite remarkable that we’ve been able to keep battling on.

“If they’ve ever shown a bit of resilience, they’ve shown it tonight. They could have folded after what happened.”

United will assess the injury suffered by Joelinton after the Brazilian retired early following a much-needed goal.

Bruce said: “We missed a bit of a focal point when Jo went off, and that sums our luck up.

“He makes one, scores one, and then he has to come off. Let’s hope he hasn’t cracked a rib or damaged a rib.”