Bruce admits COVID omissions but Wilson back to boost Newcastle hopes

Callum Wilson, Adam Webster

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce is glad to have striker Callum Wilson available to face Crystal Palace as a few squad members are absent due to coronavirus.

Wilson started the Magpies’ first eight league games of the campaign, scoring six times including a brace against Everton. That was in a 2-1 victory at St James’ Park – the last time Bruce’s men took all three points.

They have lost their last two – a 2-0 defeat to Southampton and a 2-0 reverse at home to Chelsea.

Wilson, 28, missed the Blues clash after picking up the injury against Saints but is ready face Crystal Palace. Bruce is happy to have the England man back after the way he has performed to date.

“He’ll be fit. He’s trained all week,” he said. “We didn’t think we could risk him (against Chelsea). He will be available which we’re delighted about.

“Already he’s made a difference. He’s got six goals in eight games in the Premier League. We’re delighted he’s returned.”

Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie are also available following respective hamstring and shoulder problems. The boss also revealed that members of his squad have been affected by the pandemic but is remaining upbeat.

“COVID is one problem we have to manage but I don’t really want to go into individuals,” he added. “We have got two or three individuals in the training ground at the moment who are self-isolating. We’re not as bad as most. We’ve got Jonjo, Matt Ritchie and Callum Wilson back, they can only be positives.”

Magpies urged to find Everton form

The Tynesiders may have slipped to 15th in the top-flight standings but are still well clear of the drop zone. Seven points separates the north-east outfit from Fulham in 18th but Bruce is in no mood for complacency.

“We have to accept that we didn’t play well enough. In those particular games both teams to beat us go top of the league,” he added. “They’re in a rich vein of form, we have found it difficult.

“Crystal Palace is an ideal opportunity to try to bounce back and put in a performance like we did against Everton, which was only three weeks ago by the way.”

Following the Palace clash, the men in black and white face a trip to the West Midlands to take on Aston Villa. Slaven Bilic’s West Brom will then be the visitors on December 12, with games in the run-up to Christmas looking winnable.


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