Return date set for FOUR key Newcastle United players amid major Steve Bruce injury crisis

Steve Bruce has revealed he could welcome back THREE key players for Newcastle United’s next Premier League outing at Wolves – but the FA Cup trip to Rochdale has come around too soon for the trio.

Saturday, 4th January 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Saturday, 4th January 2020, 6:00 am
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 27: Jamaal Lascelles of Newcastle United reacts during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at St. James Park on October 27, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Skipper Jamaal Lascelles, Paul Dummett and Ciaran Clark are all in with a chance of making next weekend’s trip to Molineux, while Matt Ritchie is set to return this weekend after four months out with an ankle problem.

Florian Lejeune is being rested after playing four games on the bounce, following a return from nine months out with a knee injury. The Frenchman is likely to be fit for the Wolves trip.

“I was in at quarter to seven this morning with the doctor,” said Bruce ahead of tomorrow’s third round tie.

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“I’ve never known a 15 minutes like it and I said a month ago the schedule was ridiculous.

“I did predict a month ago the schedule was ridiculous. When you keep asking players to play tired. Our record on soft tissues was better than last season, up to Saturday. For me it is the number of games and asking them to play tired. It is what it is.

“With sports science today it’s about prevention of injuries and soft tissue. It’s the number of games in a short period of times and we have suffered the consequences.

“None of the New Year’s Day four will play. DeAndre Yedlin has a terrible hand injury. Dummett, Clark, Lascelles – maybe for Wolves, but not the weekend.’’

Meanwhile, Bruce has revealed he is likely to name Ritchie on the bench at Spotland.

He said: “Ritchie is training today and all being well he’s on the bench at Rochdale.’’

Bruce is certain to draft in a host of youngsters from the under-23 side for the cup, but that will not detract away from the fact he will be picking his strongest possible starting XI.

“We are still going to be strong, we will do our best," he said.

“We will be as strong as we possibly can. We have 11 injuries. Five out of six central defenders are injured.”