Steve Bruce believes he’ll still have ‘8 or 9’ players missing ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Rochdale, however he’s shared some positive updates on the fitness from this morning.
The boss claims both Matt Ritchie and Jamaal Lascelles look set to return for tomorrow’s FA Cup replay against Rochdale, and says Fabian Schar, Jonjo Shelvey and Allan Saint-Maximin should be ready for Chelsea this weekend.
He also believes Joelinton could be fit for tomorrow, despite a groin problem at Wolves, however it seems the game will come too soon for the likes of Dummett, Gayle, Muto, Ki, Manquillo, Saint-Maximin, Schar and Shelvey, with Yedlin and Krafth’s fitness also in question after they missed out at Molineux.
With that in mind, Bruce has accepted he may not be able to rotate against Rochdale – which is a slight concern after claiming so many of our players are ‘in the red zone’ when it comes to their energy levels a few days on from that hard fought draw at Wolves.
Here’s what he’s had to say ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup replay at St James’ Park:
“We’ve got two or three others coming back: we expect Schär to be training (this week). Shelvey and Saint-Maximin with a full week’s training into them – hopefully, they’ll be ready for the weekend.
“They are all in the red zone now and f I measured the two Longstaffs (at Wolves) and Almiron, they have ran a million miles.
“To ask them to go again on Tuesday [in the replay vs Rochdale] is the same thing and you run the risk.
“That is why we do a rotation, but I have got no choice as I can’t rotate.
“I couldn’t risk Matt Ritchie and Andy Carroll (at Wolves) because they have just come back.
“Matt Ritchie played half an hour [against Rochdale the previous weekend after he had been out since August] but trained all week, so always in our mind was Tuesday [against Wolves].
“Matt Ritchie is one on the team sheet for Tuesday but he has been out for months so we have to make sure he’s ready.
“We think Jamaal [Lascelles] will [also] be back for Tuesday.”
Having Ritchie and Lascelles back in the side would be a huge boost.
Their leadership has been missed at times over the past month – something that could be key on the night, especially if a few inexperienced youngsters are forced to feature.
Elsewhere, it’s promising to hear key trio Shelvey, Schar and Saint-Maximin are close to returning – although Bruce must not rush back the latter given his recent history with hamstring injuries.