Steve Bruce has been speaking to the press in the last few moments, giving a much needed injury update ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Chelsea at St James’ Park.
The good news is that Callum Wilson has declared himself fit to play after coming through training – however Bruce has insisted that he won’t play if he believes there’s “any risk whatsoever” before kick off tomorrow.
Miguel Almiron is back from Paraguay and “seems to be OK”, but he too will face a late fitness test ahead of Saturday’s 12.30pm kick off.
Bruce also confirms that Matt Ritchie and Jonjo Shelvey are back in contention after returning to training this week, although he suggests that both are far more likely to return at Crystal Palace next weekend.
The bad news is that Ryan Fraser has been ruled out with a hamstring injury picked up before the international break, while the game will also come too soon for Martin Dubravka, Dwight Gayle and Paul Dummett.
Here’s what Bruce has had to say, starting with updates on Wilson, Fraser, Shelvey and Ritchie:
“Ryan Fraser won’t make it for Saturday but Callum Wilson has a chance.
“If there’s any risk whatsoever then he (Wilson) won’t play but he has trained the last few days and was very comfortable yesterday. He wants to play.”
“It might be a bit early for Jonjo Shelvey but he’s trained over the last three days.
“Matt Ritchie is another one who has trained and it’s good news for us all that they’re around the group again and available for selection.”
“Tomorrow might be a bit early for them (Shelvey and Ritchie) but they’ll certainly be involved for Crystal Palace next week.”
Bruce then revealed that Almiron only returned from Paraguay at 11pm last night, meaning a late decision will be made on him:
“He didn’t get in until 11pm last night after being half-way around the world.
“He had to be COVID tested but everything seems to be OK in that respect so we’ll see on him.”
Finally, Steve Bruce had this to say when asked about Paul Dummett after reports he’d suffered a new injury setback earlier this week”
“He’s not quite right.
“I wouldn’t say it was a setback but Paul was one of those players that desperately needed a pre-season and suffered without it.
“We just have to be a bit more patient.”
With all of the above in mind, what team do you see Bruce going with come 12.30 tomorrow?