Steve Bruce has provided a big update on the fitness front ahead of tomorrow’s opening day clash at West Ham.
The good news is that Bruce has confirmed that £35m duo Callum Wilson and Jamal Lewis are both fit, hinting both are ready to be thrown straight in, however Ryan Fraser looks set for a late fitness – with him training over the past few days but seriously short on match fitness after not playing a competitive game since March.
Another player who is ‘touch and go’ is Matt Ritchie (calf). He, like Jonjo Shelvey, has been back in training and could yet feature, but it seems both will be assessed late in the day after missing our final pre-season friendly against Stoke with injuries.
You’d also have to presume Joelinton’s readiness to play will also be looked at in the coming 24 hours, with him barely featuring over pre-season, playing just a few minutes of our final friendly and missing the entire training camp at York.
Ruled out are Martin Dubrakva (ankle), Fabian Schar (shoulder), Dwight Gayle (knee), Matty Longstaff (thigh) and Paul Dummett (hamstring), while Ciaran Clark is ‘OK’ but still not ‘fully recovered’ after Bruce revealed he actually ‘broke his leg’ earlier in the year at Arsenal.
Here’s what the NUFC boss has had to say on all of the above, handing fans some early team news ahead of tomorrow’s eagerly awaited trip to London:
“Matt Ritchie [calf] is still touch and go, he’s trained but we’ll see how he is today.
“Matty Longstaff, Martin Dubravka, Fabian Schär and Dwight Gayle won’t make it but we’re getting a few back which is important.”
“Ciaran Clark and Paul Dummett still haven’t fully recovered.
“Clark has been OK in the last three or four days, so we’ll see how he is.
“Ciaran broke his leg and Paul has had an ongoing problem.
“Matty Longstaff is a worry to us at the minute with his thigh.
“Schar is still recovering from his shoulder injury.
“Wilson will be available.
“Jamaal’s all right, we think Jonjo’s all right,”
“We will see how [Ryan] Fraser is today because he hasn’t played a lot but he’s trained for the last two days.
“[Jamal] Lewis will play.”
With Lejeune leaving on loan, Schar injured, Dummett out and Clark still not fully fit, it’s also good to hear Lascelles is ready to play, with him only recently returning from ankle surgery and missing the Stoke friendly through suspension.
Elsewhere, there’s no update on Jeff Hendrick’s condition following his return from international duty, so it’ll be interesting to see who starts in midfield between him, Shelvey, Hayden and Sean Longstaff – although some are backing the latter to play in a no.10 role if Ritchie and Fraser miss out.
With the above team news in mind, this could well be the side that starts tomorrow:
Predicted NUFC XI (4-2-3-1): Darlow – Manquillo, Lascelles, Fernandez, Lewis – Hayden, Shelvey – Ritchie, Almiron, Saint-Maximin – Wilson.