Steve Bruce has some decisions to make over the next few fixtures on who rests and when. There are four matches from Thursday to the FA Cup trip to Rochdale next Saturday.
We are likely to be without at least four players over that stretch with Ki Sung-yueng possibly being back soon. The South Korean has been ruled out for Thursday once again due to an illness.
Here is injury analyst Ben Dinnery’s tweet on the five players definitely out for Boxing Day.
Saint-Maximin (hamstring) is expected to be another four weeks. Lacselles (tibia) and Matt Ritchie (ankle) should return in early January (10-14 days) while Ki Sung-Yeung has been struggling due to illness. Ciaran Clark (calf) won't be too far away, possibly a week or so. #NUFC
— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) December 23, 2019
Steve Bruce also spoke about Jetro Willems and Paul Dummett during his press conference. It’s looking positive on Jetro, with Paul still feeling the effects of his groin injury suffered on Saturday.
The head coach also touched on Andy Carroll’s availability. Andy has made consecutive starts over the past two weeks as Bruce has found ways to get both Andy and Joelinton on the pitch together.
However, with Andy, Bruce recognizes that he needs to be cautious. With four games in just over a week, Bruce will have to decide which games are the right ones to put Carroll in from the start.
The Chronicle have published comments about the availability of his big striker:
“I’ve got to try and box clever. We’ll see how Andy is this morning.
“He wants to play every week but I’ll have a conversation with him.
“It would be unrealistic to think he could play two games in 48 hours, but knowing how he is, he’ll want to. We’ll see how he is. Watch this space.”
While Bruce doesn’t rule it out, he’s not likely to have the 30-year-old available for both Manchester United on Thursday and Everton just two days later. He may start him in one and then allow for a late cameo in the other.
We would suspect the same to be true for Florian Lejeune, who just came back on Saturday after over 8 months away. However, the situation with Paul Dummett complicates matters for the back three.
Bruce has some decisions to make, and what he decides to do could have repercussions on how we fare during this hectic run of games and beyond.