Former Newcastle United striker Andy Cole has criticised the fitness levels of Ryan Fraser following the Magpies’ penalty shootout win against League Two side Newport County.
Fraser arrived at St James’ Park on a free transfer having left Bournemouth following his contract expiring with the Cherries. The Scotland international received criticism from his former club’s supporters for not playing on after the restart of the Premier League last term, where they ultimately ended up being relegated to the Championship.
The 26-year-old has, so far, featured in all three of Newcastle’s Carabao Cup fixtures, scoring in their win against Blackburn Rovers at St James’ Park. However, Fraser has not yet managed to force his way into Bruce’s starting line-up for their Premier League matches.
That is in contrast to Callum Wilson, who also arrived from Bournemouth in the summer having played on following the restart to the campaign, making 35 Premier League appearances (via Transfermarkt). The striker has so far featured in all of the Magpies’ league matches scoring twice, which suggests Bruce has faith in the forward’s ability to make an instant impact.
Fraser started for the Magpies at Newport, but he struggled to really make much of an impression in the final third despite a few promising moments and Cole, speaking to Sky Sports on the live broadcast following the game, revealed that he thinks the player is lacking in fitness but also added that he could not fault his commitment.
“He’s not quite looking fit. I think he has been off what five or six months? He didn’t play for Bournemouth during the back end of the season. I think, for him, he is trying to get himself back into the moment. Back playing football at this level. He’s trying. I don’t think we can question that. At the moment, it’s just not coming off for him.”
This is an important campaign for Fraser who will need to re-find his best form from the 2018/19 season, which saw him register an impressive tally of 14 assists and seven goals in 38 Premier League appearances (via Transfermarkt). That form evaded him last term with the attacker scoring just one goal and registering four assists for the Cherries, as per Transfermarkt.
Bruce should be able to get more out of the talented attacker in the coming months, but Cole is right to suggest that it will be up to the 26-year-old to improve his fitness levels and force his way into the Magpies’ starting line-up.
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