The duo were expected to be missing for the rest of the season after recent hamstring injuries, however Bruce claims they are both ‘tough and go’ to feature in our final game of the season.
Elsewhere, Fabian Schar is set for shoulder surgery today and could miss ‘6-8 weeks’, but Bruce is hopeful he, Jamaal Lascelles, Ciaran Clark and Paul Dummett will all be fine to return in good time for the 2020/21 season.
Here’s what he’s had to say today, also suggesting that Emil Krafth could miss out after suffering a bad knock to his ankle at Brighton:
“Sean Longstaff and Isaac Hayden are touch and go. They trained for the first time yesterday with the group. They’ll come back into the squad if they come through the next two days.”
“We’ve got a problem with Emil Krafth who took a nasty whack to his ankle so we’ll see how he is over the next 24 hours.”
“Unfortunately we won’t have any of the defenders back. We’ve got six centre backs on the books and five of them or injured. The one stand-in we put there is injured too so it’s Sod’s law.”
“Fabian Schär has an operation this afternoon so we’re hoping 6-8 weeks for him and we hope he’ll be there or thereabouts when the season restarts. That goes for Lascelles and all of the injured players too.”
“We’re hoping that everybody who isn’t available now will be ready and training when we return, which will probably be the 17th or 18th of August.”
His comments also suggest forgotten centre-back Florian Lejeune will also be ready to return to action when the players return for pre-season training in the middle of August:
Bruce has also commented on Kelland Watts’ chances of making his Premier League debut, suggesting his lack of game time at any level over the past five months makes it unlikely he’ll be thrown into the deep end against the champions on Sunday:
“There’s a possibility [he could make his debut].
“He hasn’t played for something like five months so it’d be a big ask.
“He was out on loan and did very well and we’re pleased with his progress.”
His all action style and ability to protect our defence better than Bentaleb has been missed in our recent run of five games without a win, meaning Bruce may be tempted to put him back into midfield alongside Shelvey, however it wouldn’t be a big surprise if he filled in at centre-back given our lack of options.
So, with Krafth looking set to miss out, Watts seeming unlikely to be thrown in from the start and no other centre-backs ready to return, could we even see Isaac Hayden fill in at the back on Sunday?
As for Sean Longstaff, he impressed in a more advanced no.10 role in his last start at Bournemouth, so he could be a handy attacking option to have back – especially when his pressing and energy may be needed against a top Liverpool side who’ll test our legs.