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Magpies duo 'touch and go' for Chelsea trip

Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce hopes to have a handful of first team players back in contention for Monday’s trip to Chelsea, with Jamaal Lascelles and Federico Fernández nearing full fitness.

The Magpies head to Stamford Bridge (8pm kick-off) looking to build on some encouraging recent displays, most recently the 3-2 win over Southampton last weekend.

And United could be boosted by the return of captain Lascelles and central defensive partner Fernández for the game in the capital, while fellow stopper Ciaran Clark is likely to be available again.

“It’s a long time before Monday but Clark, definitely (is available),” said Bruce. “We’re hoping, fingers crossed, with Jamaal and Fede.

“Two of them are touch and go, but Ciaran Clark will definitely be okay.”

The win over the Saints came at a cost, though, with Callum Wilson, Javier Manquillo and Fabian Schär all suffering injuries that will keep them out of action for some time.

On Schär, Bruce said: “He’s had an operation on his ligament in his knee. Knowing the way Fab is, he’ll try everything he possibly can to get himself fit because of the Euros, of course.  He’s had the operation on Tuesday, so it’s eight weeks maybe.

“Manquillo did his ankle ligaments as well, he could be the same length of time, and unfortunately with Callum it’s a deep tear to his hamstring. That could be six to eight weeks as well. 

“What was a really, really fantastic victory for us, the aftermath of it has unfortunately blighted us. The aftermath of losing three players, particularly your centre forward for weeks, is a bitter pill to swallow unfortunately.”

On Monday, Bruce could opt to hand a second start to January loan signing Joe Willock, who made a fine start to his time at Newcastle with a goal on his debut to help the Magpies take three points last Saturday.

And head coach Bruce says he has been delighted with the impact made by the Arsenal midfielder, who will remain at St. James’ Park until the end of the campaign.

“To score after 15 minutes, he’ll remember his debut. I think it’s the quickest goal by anybody who’s made his debut, so it’s great for him,” he said.

“You can see what he brings us - something different, a little bit of a threat, getting forward, score a goal, and the ability to get up and down the pitch, which is great and a big bonus for us.”

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