Steve Bruce has been speaking to the press this afternoon ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Newport in the last 16 of the Carabao Cup – and it’s very mixed update on the injury front.
The bad news is that Matt Ritchie needs an operation and will miss at least TWO months after damaging his shoulder on Sunday.
Bruce also suggests that Ciaran Clark is also facing a ‘long-term’ spell on the sidelines, with Paul Dummett and Matty Longstaff yet to recover.
On the plus side, Ryan Fraser and Allan Saint-Maximin are back training and ‘in contention’ for tomorrow after missing out at Spurs, with Fabian Schar also ‘ahead of schedule’ and close to returning.
Here’s what he told BBC Newcastle this afternoon, starting with the bad news on Matt Ritchie:
“He (Ritchie) is seeing the surgeon today and it’s a very similar injury to Fabian Schär- a disruption of the shoulder joint.
“It looks as if he’ll need an operation and it’ll be done fairly soon.”
“So, that’s going to be a while unfortunately.
“With that, Dummett, Matty Longstaff and Clark out long-term – it’s a worry, at this early part of the season.”
Bruce on Ryan Fraser & Allan Saint-Maximin
“He (Fraser) trained well yesterday.
“It was the right call [to leave him out for Spurs] so we’ll see how he trains today but he’s in contention for tomorrow.”
“We’ll see how Saint-Maximin is today again.
“He trained yesterday and we don’t think there’s too much concern there but, obviously he’s been off it for ten days.”
Bruce on Fabian Schar
“It’s been around nine weeks out now, he’s ahead of schedule and doing well.
“We have to be a bit careful.
“He wants to join in and play but we’re guided by doctors on him.”
So, it’s very mixed news on the fitness front, with Ritchie at risk of being out for the rest of the year.
OK, he’s not the first name on the team sheet he used to be, but his drive, intensity and versatility will be missed.
Let’s hope things aren’t too bad for Ciaran Clark, who was immaculate in his first few games back in the cup.
Bruce hasn’t given much away, but his comments make it seem as though his withdrawal at Morecambe last week wasn’t as minor as it first appeared.