Steve Bruce says Newcastle missing ‘big chunk’ of players for West Brom game

Steve Bruce says Newcastle missing ‘big chunk’ of players for West Brom game
Bruce said players and staff had not seen each other for 10 days since the win at Crystal Palace on 27 November

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce will be without a “big chunk” of his squad for Saturday’s game with West Brom because of the club’s coronavirus outbreak.

Bruce would not reveal how many players had the virus, but said it was a “significant number” of people.

He also mentioned two staff who are “really poorly”.

Bruce explained: “It’s been a very difficult week, but we are far better than where we were last Monday.

“Since then, we’ve opened the training ground, everyone has tested twice and been negative so we are back to normal for the last two or three days and we have enough to pick an XI to hopefully win us the match.”

Regarding positive tests, Bruce said there were “four one day, and then another five”, he also revealed that “one or two” players had been “severely fatigued”.

That led to a “big doubt” about whether Saturday’s game at St James’ Park would go ahead, but since numbers had improved, the players had “bounced” into training on Wednesday.

He also said two or three players had returned to the squad having recovered from the virus but some were still self-isolating at home.

Bruce said he felt like a “doctor” and a “politician” rather than a football manager, but wanted to respect players’ and staff’s privacy.

“None of us have seen each other since Crystal Palace [on 27 November] so we have been away from the training ground for 10 days which was not ideal, but that was the best way forward,” he said.

“Hopefully we have curtailed it, it looks that way with the two negative tests last Monday and Wednesday, and it puts us in a position to play the game.

“You’ll have to wait until tomorrow [to find out who is missing], we have far more than what we thought last Monday, two or three people have come back into the squad who had it and it’s left them. We didn’t think they would come back so quickly.

“I have to respect players and staff and their wishes too. Sometimes, we want to remain a little bit confidential and respect privacy. It was a significant number of people, we will be without a big chunk of players that’s for sure, but from Monday we will have a couple back.”

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