Newcastle's Bruce hopes to keep Willock after West Ham winner

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FILE PHOTO: Premier League - Burnley v Newcastle United

(Reuters) - Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce said he would be delighted to extend the stay of on-loan midfielder Joe Willock after the 21-year-old scored the winner in Saturday's 3-2 Premier League victory over West Ham United.

In February, England youth international Willock joined Newcastle on loan until the end of the season from Arsenal with Gunners manager Mikel Arteta saying that the player needed regular matches to continue his development.

Willock has scored three goals for Newcastle in nine league appearances, including the late header against West Ham to earn them a second straight win.

"We would love to keep him here," Bruce, whose side climbed nine points clear of third-from-bottom Fulham and into relative safety of 15th place, told reporters.

"He's the type of player you would love to build your club around. Whether we can or not, I'm not quite sure."

Bruce, who has come under criticism from a section of the club's fans for their poor form this season, said they were not out of the woods yet in their quest to stay in the division.

"I'm not going to take anything for granted," Bruce said. "I've always said it's the accumulation of points, and 35, in my opinion, isn't enough, so you won't get me jumping and hollering at the moment.

"We've still got six games to play - can we finish above where we did last year? Can we beat last year's points tally? Can we beat where we were? We'll try our utmost."

Newcastle visit champions Liverpool on Saturday.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)