Steve Bruce says he would rather have Newcastle fans back inside St James' Park as the club scraps for its Premier League life.

There is a school of thought which suggests the Magpies head coach has been spared the brunt of supporter dissatisfaction on Tyneside by the coronavirus protocols which have kept the Toon Army away from Gallowgate for more than a year.

However, as he prepares for Sunday's showdown with Tottenham on Tyneside after 95% of respondents to a poll carried out by a local newspaper this week called for his head, Bruce is adamant he would want fans there.

He said: "I would desperately want the fans inside the ground, absolutely, 100%. Without them, then, we’re just like every other club.

"Playing behind closed doors, for me, we’ve all got sort of used to it a little bit, but when we see the internationals and we see four or five thousand at a game, it makes a difference.

"Look, I would want the supporters in because that’s what it’s all about. We’ve missed them dreadfully and I’m sure at this particular time, they’d get behind the team and that’s the most important thing now.

"We’re in a scrap, we’re in a fight – let’s get ready for it. Certainly, the supporters would play their part in it – I’m absolutely convinced they would – to try and drag us over the line in certain situations."

Newcastle are without a win in their last six matches

The mood on Tyneside remains intensely militant after a run of 20 games in all competitions which has brought just two victories.

Successive draws with Wolves, West Brom and Aston Villa had at least started the points total ticking over again, but a shambolic display as Bruce's injury-hit side lost 3-0 at Brighton last time out to slip to within two points of the drop zone focused attention on the 60-year-old once again.

Only a drastic improvement this weekend will give them any chance of recording a positive result, and the former Manchester United defender, who has Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson on the verge of returns, is confident he will get just that.

Asked if his team needed to make a statement against Spurs, he replied: "We need to have a performance to give ourselves any chance of beating Tottenham. That’s the crucial thing.

"We certainly didn’t perform against Brighton and we must accept the fallout from then. We need to go and perform, and I’m quietly confident that we will do that."