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Magpies' injury problems easing, says Bruce

Ahead of his side’s trip to Everton this weekend, Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce says his squad is finally looking “a lot healthier” after a difficult few months with illness and injury.

United head to Goodison Park on Saturday (12:30pm kick-off) hoping for a return to winning ways and will be boosted once again by the inclusion of winger Allan Saint-Maximin, who has recovered from COVID-19.

Saint-Maximin made an immediate impact after coming off the bench against Leeds United on Tuesday, and he could be joined in the Magpies’ squad by defenders Ciaran Clark and Paul Dummett – who returned to training after injury this week – and DeAndre Yedlin, who had missed the last two games with a visa issue.

The game on Merseyside has come too soon for centre half Federico Fernández, however, but head coach Bruce believes United are starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel after a testing start to 2021.

“Fede Fernández won’t make it unfortunately. Ciaran Clark and Paul Dummett trained yesterday for the first time, so we’ll see how they are. It’s maybe a bit early for the two of them, but we’ll see how they are this morning,” he said.

“We’re getting there. The big thing has been not just injuries, but getting over illness – that’s the biggest thing we’ve had to cope with. With the illness, the one thing they’ve been told to do is just be idle, so (for) people like (Jamaal) Lascelles and Allan in particular, it’s just been complete rest for the best part of eight weeks.

“Getting him up to speed’s going to be difficult but Allan got another half an hour the other night and we’ve seen what a difference he makes to us, so let’s hope we can stay well. We’re looking a lot healthier than we were six weeks ago, that’s for sure.”

On Yedlin, Bruce added: “I think we’ve got that resolved, so we think he’s going to be available too.”

The Magpies are winless since the turn of the new year but Bruce, who says he has seen a “slight improvement” in his charges in recent weeks, believes his side can turn things around and start to climb the Premier League table.

“It’s how you deal with it, it’s how you cope with it, how you get through it,” he said. “We’ve seen slight improvement, we’ve seen the addition of people coming back, getting fit again and healthy, which will help, and let’s hope that continues on.”

United beat the Toffees 2-1 at St. James’ Park at the start of November, a result which maintained Newcastle’s promising start to the season.

And Bruce believes his side are capable of securing a repeat victory over Carlo Ancelotti’s men, who currently sit seventh in the table, four points off the top four.

“We played very, very well. We had a very decent start – we won five of our first ten or 11 games. We know we’re capable, and to be capable we need everyone fit and healthy and we’re edging towards that now.

“Let’s hope we can improve – we will improve, we will get better, I’m convinced of that. I was pleased with the second half in particular – you could see what a goal did for us in the second half – so let’s hope we can build on what we did in the second half against Leeds.”

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Steve Bruce's pre-Everton media briefing in full

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