Steve Bruce has been speaking to the press this afternoon, offering another update on the fitness front ahead of tomorrow night’s trip to Leeds.
First off, he’s confirmed that Federico Fernandez is back in contention after recovering from Covid-19, with Ryan Fraser also “fully fit” and set to be involved now he’s overcome a recent hamstring injury.
The bad news, however, is that Allan Saint-Maximin, Fabian Schar, Jamaal Lascelles and Javier Manquillo have all been ruled out (presumably some have Covid), with Mark Gillespie, Paul Dummett and Martin Dubravka also absent from the latest training session and set to miss out again.
Elsewhere, Bruce has also revealed his plan to make “two or three” changes, hinting that fatigue could see Isaac Hayden earn a rest after only recently recovering from Covid-19.
Here’s what he’s had to say, starting with an injury update and some early team news:
“Fernández has tested negative and he is back.
“Thankfully, it (Covid) sort of washed over him but he still felt a bit fatigued. He’s OK, and will come into the reckoning.
“Ryan Fraser is fully fit and ready to go. He will be involved.
“I’m looking at the 3 or 4 on Saturday and how their fatigue is.
“We were light at the back which was unfortunate. I thought the performance of Isaac was terrific which has given me food for thought.
“The big thing for him was tiredness and fatigue.
“I’m probably going to change 2 or 3 with that in mind given the after-effects and games coming up.”
Bruce then spoke about the club’s response to the recent Covid outbreak and the current state of play at the Benton base, believing we finally have the situation under control:
“We’ve all had 3 negative tests in the past week and had no new cases so hopefully we have got on top of it.
“Shutting down the training ground, doing that sensible thing, helped us.
“Everyone is wearing masks around the building and we’ve always stuck to protocols.”
With all of the above in mind, it seems likely that Fernandez replaces Hayden at centre-back, while the other changes he talks about could see the likes of Murphy and Gayle come in – especially after their game-changing cameos on Saturday.