Bruce confirms Willems and Dummett set to miss rest of the season
Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce has confirmed that Jetro Willems will miss the rest of the season after suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury – with fellow defender Paul Dummett also expected to be sidelined for the remainder of the campaign.
On-loan wing-back Willems was injured ten minutes into the game against Chelsea at St. James’ Park on Saturday, going down in visible pain after an innocuous challenge on Callum Hudson-Odoi.
The Dutchman was stretchered off and Bruce says that the 25-year-old has ruptured his ACL, while fellow defender Dummett – who was withdrawn early on during the 1-1 draw at Wolves just over a week ago – is also unlikely to play any further part in 2019/20.
The Magpies boss said that the news had “clouded” the weekend’s 1-0 win over Frank Lampard’s men, at a time when Newcastle’s injury problems looked to be easing slightly.
“It’s what we feared. He’s ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament, and he’ll obviously miss the rest of the season,” said Bruce.
“We’ve had bad news on Dummett too – it’s not looking so good for him as well. It looks as if he’s probably ruled out for the season as well, with a tendon injury in his leg. It’s been a bad weekend in that respect. We wish them well and hope for a speedy recovery.
“We believe everybody else is OK – whether (Tuesday night’s game at Everton) is still a little bit too quick for some well have to wait until we get over today – but certainly it’s clouded the victory over Chelsea.
"We feared when you go down the way he did before half time, then you understand very quickly that it’s serious, and then to add insult to it is Dummett as well. It’s been a tough 48 hours in that respect. To miss two of them for the rest of the season is tough to take, at this moment.”
The double injury blow comes as United reach the end of what has been a gruelling winter fixture schedule – something Bruce feels may have contributed to the problems some of his players have suffered in recent weeks.
He added: “(With) Dummett, he jumped, and Jetro gets his feet caught in the grass which is one of those ones – how often do you see the cruciate knee ligament (rupture) like that?
“Most of the injuries are getting back – I did say within a week or two – and they just happened all at the same time.
“We’re playing again on Tuesday. We’ve (been) given a break in February, but the January and December fixture list is just ridiculous. We’ve been caught in it and we’re not alone – if you look at a lot of teams, they’ve been struggling with injuries too. I think it’s playing players when they’re tired and fatigued – we’re practically doing no training at all, because all we’re doing is preparing for games. That’s my thoughts on it just at this present moment.”
However, Bruce has praised his team’s character as they navigated their way through a difficult few months before Isaac Hayden’s last-gasp winner on Saturday lifted them to 12th in the Premier League table – just two points off eighth place.
“I’m delighted with the resilience of the squad,” he said. “We’ve got 16 as we stand tomorrow, and we’ve been that way now for the past month where we’re scratching around – who’s available, who’s not.
“Well played to all the squad – they’ve rolled their sleeves up, and it just shows you that with a bit of hard work, a bit of resilience and a little bit of luck along the way, of course, it’s amazing what you can achieve.”
Newcastle travel to Merseyside to take on Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton on Tuesday night (7:30pm kick-off) just over three weeks on from the Toffees’ 2-1 win on Tyneside in the first meeting between the sides.
And Bruce says his charges will have to perform well if they’re to take anything from Goodison Park, as Ancelotti continues to try to lift his new side into the top half.
“He’s a hugely talented manager so he’ll eventually put his own stamp on what he’s got. Since big Dunc (Duncan Ferguson) went in and revived them a little bit, Carlo’s done the same sort of thing – nothing much has changed in that respect,” said Bruce.
“But I would think over time, when he gets his feet under the table, he will want to evolve it his way, and as I say he’s a very, very talented and successful manager.
“They’ve got good players – they always have had – and they’ve invested a hell of a lot of money. It was close at St. James’, and we’ll have to play well again and see what we can do.”