Steve Bruce has been speaking to the press ahead of tomorrow night’s trip to Aston Villa – and he’s had good and bad news to share on the injury front.
The big boost is that Allan Saint-Maximin looks set to return earlier than expected, with Bruce confirming he’s come through training all week and looks in good shape.
That said, Bruce has all but confirmed hat it’ll be too early for him to start – however it seems he’ll definitely be involved at some stage tomorrow night.
The not so good news is that reliable centre-back duo Federico Fernandez AND Ciaran Clark are both struggling with injuries and look set to miss out. Fernandez appears to be a particular concern, as Bruce states he is a “while off” after suffering a hamstring problem.
On the plus side, Fabian Schar is fit again after missing out at Arsenal and looks likely to partner Jamaal Lascelles at the back, while Dwight Gayle could return to the squad after being unwell.
Here’s what Bruce has had to say, starting with a big update on ASM’s long awaited return:
“The good news for everybody is (Allan) Saint-Maximin is in the squad.
“He’s trained well all week and his fitness levels are very, very good.
“He looks in decent shape and will give everybody a huge lift.
“He’s the one player we look to who has a bit of creativity.”
“A team like ours is going to miss our most creative player. Our system is built around him on the counter-attack.”
“It’s good news for all fans that he’ll be involved tomorrow.
“We have to get the balance right and I wouldn’t expect him to be starting but he’ll be in the squad.”
“We’ve missed his blistering pace. He’ll certainly help us win a few games.”
Bruce then gave this worrying update on Fernandez, also confirming that Clark is struggling and Gayle has been ill:
“Fernandez has got hamstring and muscle problems.
“He’s the one we’ve been worried about with what happened to him with COVID.
“It’s unlike him to have muscle problems. He’s still going to be a while off and we’ll see how he is in another week.”
“We’re still a bit light in the centre of defence with Fede (Fernandez) and Ciaran Clark but we hope Fab Schar will be OK.
“Gayle has been unwell. We’ll see how he is.
“I must stress: while he was unwell, thankfully, his COVID tests were negative – and that’s good news.”
So, Saint-Maximin to give us an option from the bench, Fernandez and Clark to sit this one out, Schar more than likely to start and Gayle back in the squad, it seems.