Steve Bruce labelled Fulham's Aleksandar Mitrovic a "cult hero" as he revealed he would have loved the chance to manage the former Newcastle United forward.
Fulham and Mitrovic travel to St James' Park on Saturday, but the Serbia international – who scored 26 times in the Championship last season – has not found the net in the Premier League since scoring twice against Leeds United in September.
Mitrovic spent two-and-a-half seasons with Newcastle before moving to Fulham, and Bruce wished he had got the chance to work with the former Anderlecht man.
"I would've loved the opportunity to work with him," Bruce told a news conference. "He was great up here and you can understand why he's a cult hero. He's different. Big, tough, strong, fiercely competitive, has a bit of an edge to him, a bit like the North East."
Fulham have lost just one of their last four games, while Newcastle were hammered 5-2 by Leeds on Wednesday, and Bruce is expecting a stern test from Scott Parker's team.
"He's had a great start with promotion in his first year. I'm delighted that another young English, British manager is coming through as I was worried there wasn't many but he's bucked the trend. He seems to have turned Fulham around a bit," Bruce said of Parker, a former Newcastle player.
The Cottagers have taken points off both Liverpool and Brighton and Hove Albion in their last two games, and Parker is full of confidence.
"It's definitely a game where we want to go up there and try and win. It's a game that we want to try and take points from," he said. "We're in a good run, we're in a good vein of form, so for sure we're going to go up there and try and win the game."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Newcastle United – Callum Wilson
Wilson's goals have been vital to Newcastle this term, but he has also proved a creative force. He registered his 10th goal involvement – an assist for Jeff Hendrick – in his 11th Premier League appearance for the club against Leeds (seven goals, three assists).
Fulham – Ademola Lookman
Lookman seems to have found his feet once again at Fulham, and has turned in some impressive displays. From 10 league appearances, he has created 16 chances – joint-top for Fulham alongside Tom Cairney.
KEY OPTA FACTS
• Newcastle are without a clean sheet in their last 10 Premier League home games, since beating Sheffield United 3-0 back in June. However, the Magpies have won three of their last five at St James' Park (L2).
• Newcastle are the first team to play all three promoted sides in three consecutive Premier League games since Manchester United in September 2014, who drew 0-0 with Burnley, beat QPR 4-0 and lost 3-5 against Leicester City under Louis van Gaal.
• Fulham are looking to keep back-to-back Premier League clean sheets for the first time since April 2019 (three in a row); the Cottagers have only two clean sheets in their last 43 away matches in the top-flight, though one of those was at Newcastle in December 2018.
• In their last match against Leeds, Newcastle conceded five goals in a top-flight league match against a newly promoted side for the first time since August 1958 against Blackburn. The Magpies have shipped 21 goals in their opening 12 league games.
• Fulham are the only side yet to concede from outside the box in the Premier League this season. In their last campaign in the competition, the Cottagers were one of five sides to concede at least 10 goals from distance.
• Wilson is the quickest English player to reach double figures for goals and assists in the Premier League for the Magpies since Alan Shearer in October 1996 (10th match).