Alan Hutton has revealed that Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce spends a significant amount of time preparing his side to deal with set-pieces after watching them lose to Aston Villa on Monday.

The former Villa and Scotland defender, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, says that the Newcastle defence “flopped” against Dean Smith’s men, two Conor Hourihane free-kicks leading to a home win for the Villans.

The Republic of Ireland international opened the scoring from a well-worked set-piece before delivering an assist for Anwar El Ghazi to net the second.

Hutton revealed that his former boss works tirelessly with his team on dealing with set-piece defending on the training ground and that he will have been bitterly disappointed with what he saw from his men on Monday night.

Hutton told Football Insider: “I know Steve Bruce well and I’m sure for the whole week he was getting them revved up for this game, this was massive for him. Things didn’t go quite planned at Villa towards the end and he’ll have been wanting to go to Villa Park and show people what they were missing.

“They just kind of flopped, to be honest, they didn’t come out the traps at all. Things like set pieces, these are things that he does daily, drills it into his players, do not concede from free-kicks, from set pieces and they’ve been hurt. 

“It’s something he works on and he’ll be disappointed with.” 

Defeat for Bruce and his men leaves them sitting 14th in the Premier League table, Smith’s side now just one point and one place behind.

Their next game sees them play host to Manchester City in Saturday’s early kick-off before outings against Sheffield United, Southampton and Burnley.

In other Newcastle United news, Darren Bent admits he is feeling “desperate” when it comes to the Magpies’ “unluckiest” player.