Fit-again Shelvey in line for return
Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce says fit-again Jonjo Shelvey could be in line for a return to the Magpies’ side ahead of Saturday’s visit of Burnley.
The midfielder has come through a week’s training unscathed after missing United’s last five fixtures through injury.
But the 28-year-old’s return to fitness has provided Newcastle with a welcome boost ahead of the clash with the in-form Clarets.
And Bruce hopes Shelvey’s comeback could aid his side as they look to earn a second home Premier League win of 2020.
“Jonjo’s trained for the last ten days or so, so it’s good to see him back,” he said. “(Javier) Manquillo’s back, so it’s good to see him back as well.
“All of a sudden we’ve got probably 20 outfield players to choose from rather than what we did two or three weeks ago with probably 12.”
Bruce is hopeful that having Shelvey available will give his charges a lift as they try to impose themselves more offensively, having mustered just four league goals since the turn of the year.
“That’s the frustration that we all bear – that we haven’t created enough or scored enough,” he said. “They’re the simple facts. Defensively, we’ve had a few lapses all season, but that’s what we’ve got to improve on, its simple as that. Our front three have scored four goals between them.
“So we have to improve, and that’s not just a criticism of them. We have to improve on a bit of creativity and we have to get people forward better and create a few more chances – we haven’t created enough either.”
The Magpies are also expecting defender Ciaran Clark – who has impressed Bruce this term – to be sidelined for a spell after suffering ankle ligament damage in the defeat at Arsenal a fortnight ago.
“We’re just deciding now, in the next week or so, whether he’s going to have the operation or not,” said Bruce. “He’s obviously damaged ankle ligaments badly so the decision is whether to operate or not. I think in the next 48 hours we’ll decide which way we’re going to go.
“I think he’s been excellent this season. It’s been cruel in that respect – with Matt Ritchie (getting injured) from a tackle and a challenge for four months, and now Ciaran and Dummy, unfortunately it’s been never-ending. But it happens – with impact in a game, you can’t legislate for it.
“It’s disappointing for Ciaran – he has been one of our better players this year in my opinion. He’s done very well. It’s bad news for all of us.”