With the Premier League returning this week, it’s finally time for us to start wondering who Steve Bruce will pick to start this Sunday’s clash with Sheffield United at an empty St James’ Park.
Our preparations appear to have gone well, with us winning our two behind-closed-doors friendlies with Middlesbrough (3-2) and Hull (2-0) and picking up no injuries, however there have been a few players who’ve failed to feature in either – suggesting they’ll miss this weekend’s game.
Those players are Sean Longstaff, Matty Longstaff, Dwight Gayle, Ciaran Clark and Paul Dummett. Here’s a full list of who’s featured in both, in one or not at all in our last two friendlies vs Middlesbrough and Hull:
Featured in both games: Dubravka, Darlow, – Krafth Yedlin, Manquillo – Schar, Fernandez, Lejeune – Rose – Hayden, Shelvey, Bentaleb, Lazaro, Ritchie, Saint-Maximin, Almiron – Muto, Joelinton.
Featured in one: Lascelles (Boro), Atsu (Boro), Carroll (Hull).
Featured in none: S. Longstaff, M Longstaff, Gayle, Clark, Dummett.
Jack Colback, Rob Elliot and Henri Saivet are three others who failed to feature in either game, not that they have ever been in contention to play this season, with Colback and Elliot all set to leave when their deals expire in a few weeks time.
There’s been no reason given as to why Christian Atsu missed the win over Hull, while Jamaal Lascelles missed out on Saturday due to his wife giving birth to a baby boy (congratulations to them both!).
Back to the six who’ve failed to feature. Paul Dummett recently confirmed he was fit again, but with him currently out of Steve Bruce’s 25-man squad after being withdrawn back in January through a serious hamstring injury and the Premier League recently deciding that squads can NOT be resubmitted, we may be planning for life without him over the final 9 games.
As for the Longstaff’s, Bruce has confirmed that both picked up recent knocks. The pair are expected to return to training next week, but neither look likely to feature against Sheffield United given their lack of match practice. Not only that, I don’t expect Matty to play until his contract situation is sorted one way or another.
Ciaran Clark has been back in training several months on from his ankle ligament injury at Arsenal, but it seems he’s still not deemed fit enough to return to action?
Finally, Dwight Gayle. Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to him, however you can’t help but fear he may have suffered another muscle injury given he started our last Premier League game (1-0 win at Southampton) yet hasn’t played a minute in our last two behind-closed-doors friendlies.