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Bruce Is Taking Right Approach With These Two Defenders


Yesterday when Newcastle released images of Wednesday’s training session, it was accompanied with the following statement on Matt Ritchie:

And Steve Bruce may be able to call upon Matt Ritchie for Sunday’s match, with the influential 30-year-old back in full training this week.

Matt has been out of action for almost two months with his ankle injury suffered during the Carabao Cup match against Leicester City. His return to training this week is a massive step in his recovery. However, he will only have a few days of team training under his belt by the weekend.

The Chronicle have published an update from Steve Bruce on the left wing-back’s availability for Sunday:

“Matt Ritchie did a week’s intensive course, last week – fitness levels.

“He’s trained for two days, but we mustn’t forget he’s been out for two months, as well.

“So, great to see them back in, and in and around it. The weekend, I would think, might be a little too early.”

We tend to agree with Steve Bruce on this one. You don’t want to rush Ritchie back, especially when Jetro Willems has been playing so well.

The Chronicle also reported that Ritchie is pleading his case with the head coach to be involved this weekend. We would expect nothing less from Matt Ritchie.

With news today that Fabian Schar is a doubt at the weekend, it piqued our curiosity as to whether Steve Bruce would give a start to Florian Lejeune.

However, from the same report in the Chronicle, Steve Bruce has asserted that he will not rush the 28-year-old back. This is what Bruce said about Lejeune’s availability for Sunday:

“I think Sunday will be too early.

“The big thing with Flo was it’s been a cruciate (ligament) and I would like to see him get something behind closed doors – a game of some sort.

“I’ve set a target of maybe after the international break with Flo. He’s made great progress.”

We also agree with Steve Bruce that it is too soon for Lejeune. While we expect Matt Ritchie to be in contention for the trip to West Ham on November 2nd, it appears like Florian is still weeks away from consideration.

The next international break will be after Bournemouth travel to St James Park on November 9th. So it looks like the Frenchman won’t be available for selection until we travel to face Aston Villa in one month’s time on November 25th.

It’s fortunate that the recent injuries to Andy Carroll and Fabian Schar are minor ones. So while we will be down five players against Wolves, including the suspended Isaac Hayden, we should have just Florian Lejeune out of the picture at West Ham to begin November.