Newcastle United have been dealt an injury blow, with Steve Bruce confirming that Callum Wilson will not return until after the March international break.
That’s according to The Northern Echo, who quote the Toon boss as voicing doubt in having his side’s 10-goal top-scorer plus fellow forwards Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin back in time to face Dean Smith’s Aston Villa this weekend or Brighton and Hove Albion next week.
There had been some hope that Wilson could return from his deep hamstring tear to feature in some capacity at the Amex Stadium a week on Saturday, but none of the trio are now likely to play again until United host Tottenham Hotspur on April 3rd at the earliest.
Newcastle have been without Wilson for four games after losing their £20m summer signing late in the first half of last month’s 3-2 win over Southampton. Almiron and Saint-Maximin were ruled out with knee and groin injuries after the 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers on February 27.
Wilson has stepped up his rehabilitation with a return to training on the grass and Bruce believes he, Almiron and Saint-Maximin are all showing promising signs in their recoveries.
“Callum is four weeks in, so we’re seeing him on the grass and he’s progressing. That goes for Allan and Almiron as well,” the Toon boss said.
“We’ve just got to let nature take its course. They’re working as hard as they possibly can. We hope the international break will maybe do us a turn, and we hope that by the end of the international break, they’ll be there or thereabouts.”
Bruce added that he feels everything is going to plan and that Almiron is making “particularly good progress,” while Javier Manquillo is nearing a return from a muscular injury sooner than Newcastle initially predicted.
“We’ve got no new injuries to report,” he noted. “Manquillo has worked extremely hard and was a week or two quicker than expected, so it was good to see him around it. [Federico] Fernandez is back amongst it too [after a calf injury], which is good news.”
Bruce sharing that Wilson, Almiron and Saint-Maximin will all miss Newcastle’s Premier League games with Aston Villa and relegation-rivals Brighton and Hove Albion will surely leave the Magpies head coach deeply disappointed.
United are just a single point better off than the Seagulls heading into this weekend’s round of fixtures, but Graham Potter’s side would move above the St. James’ Park natives should they avoid defeat at Southampton on Sunday and Aston Villa win on Friday thanks to a superior goal difference.
Regardless of results this weekend, next Saturday’s meeting at the Amex will be a pivotal six-pointer in the fight for survival, too, with 18th-placed Fulham hot on Newcastle and Brighton’s tail after a run of form that saw Scott Parker nominated for February’s Manager of the Month award.
Having just Wilson back for the Toon’s trip to the south coast could have been huge, with the 29-year-old not only the club’s top-scorer but also lead assist maker with five over 21 outings in the Premier League so far this season.
Wilson, Saint-Maximin and Almiron account for 59% of the 27 goals scored by United players in the top-flight this term, along with 53% of the 17 assists registered.
The Toon have also scored just twice in the four games played without Wilson to date, and will be desperate to see Dwight Gayle, Andy Carroll or Joelinton change their fortunes on Friday.