Bruce to assess Darlow's fitness ahead of Wolves trip
Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce says Karl Darlow’s bid to recover from injury will go “down to the wire” as the Magpies goalkeeper aims to keep his place for Sunday’s trip to Wolves (4:30pm kick-off).
United travel to Molineux this weekend looking for a return to form following last Saturday’s 4-1 home defeat to Manchester United – a game in which Darlow took a painful blow.
And Bruce admitted that Darlow – who has excelled since stepping in for the injured Martin Dúbravka – was still feeling the effects of that knock ahead of the clash with Nuno Espirito Santo’s men, with summer signing Mark Gillespie on standby.
“He was sore this morning, as you can imagine, but he’s made a huge improvement from Saturday night,” said Bruce.
“I think we’re just going to have to take it down to the wire and see how he is. Thankfully it’s impact – there’s no tear or anything there – but obviously it’s in a very, very sore region where he’s taken an awful, awful knock.
“We’ll see how he is. As I said, he’s better than he was on Saturday, but whether he’s going to be fit enough, we’ll just have to wait and see over the next 48 hours.”
The Newcastle head coach added: “He’s done fantastically well. He’s waited patiently and got his chance, and then was thrown into it really with the freakish nature of Martin’s injury. He’s done very, very well so we hope he can make it.
“But we brought Mark in, and Mark’s played in the cup competitions and done very, very well, so we’ll have to wait and see and see what the next 48 hours brings.
“That’s why we brought him here. He’s played in the cup, he’s played three times, and that looks a good shout now especially if he has to make his (Premier League) debut – he’s had some sort of football anyway. But he’s an experienced goalkeeper who’s played in the Scottish Premiership for the last few years, so he’ll be fine.”
Defenders Ciaran Clark and Paul Dummett came through United’s under-23s’ midweek win over Fulham unscatched as they continue to step up their returns, while Matty Longstaff – who also featured in that win at St. James’ Park – is expected to play for the second string at West Brom on Friday.
And Sean Longstaff is also back in action after a bout of tonsillitis, with Miguel Almirón – who is still looking for just his second league start of the campaign – another player Bruce insists is under consideration.
“He didn’t play at the weekend because he’d just got off the plane and been halfway round the world so he didn’t get back until Friday. I think that would have been unjust on him,” Bruce said of the Paraguayan international.
“I know Almirón very, very well, he’s a top, top player, the kid, and I’m sure he’ll have a big part to play. Certainly he’s in my thoughts for the weekend.”
Almirón was on target for United in their 1-1 draw at Molineux last term, while the contest between the sides on Tyneside also ended 1-1.
Bruce has seen the evolution of Santo’s side since his time in charge of Aston Villa, and has warned his charges that Wolves will prove tricky opponents on Sunday.
“They blew the Championship away and they had four or five players playing in it where they were just too good for it – they really were an outstanding team. You have to say well done to them all on what they’ve done in the last two or three years,” he said.
“Certainly in their recruitment of players and the way they are, they’re a very, very good side. They’ve finished seventh twice now, so we’re under no illusion that it’s going to be a very difficult game.
“But they didn’t beat us last year – we had two good results against them last year, and let’s hope we can do exactly the same. And that’s what the Premier League is – there’s some very good teams and I count Wolves, who finished seventh back-to-back, as a very good team.”