Steve Bruce will be desperate for good news ahead of Newcastle United visiting Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday, with Miguel Almiron in line for a potential return.
That’s according to The Shields Gazette, who quote the Toon boss as telling the BBC following the weekend’s 1-1 draw with Aston Villa that Almiron may be available to feature at the Amex Stadium.
Bruce had voiced doubt in Newcastle seeing Almiron, or fellow treatment room members Callum Wilson (hamstring) and Allan Saint-Maximin (groin), until after the March international break, with the trio likely missing the Villa and Brighton affairs.
Wilson had sparked slender hopes of United’s 10-goal top-scorer making a return in some capacity against the Seagulls after stepping up his rehabilitation, but Bruce does not expect to see the ex-AFC Bournemouth striker make sufficient progress.
But it is a somewhat different story for Almiron, as the Paraguayan playmaker could be in line for minutes in the relegation six-pointer, as Bruce is hopeful of a positive update.
“We will see how they progress, of course,” the Newcastle head coach said. “It’s going to be a little too early for Callum, we can already dismiss that. Miggy’s a different option. He’s going along very, very nicely so we’ll keep our fingers crossed.”
Newcastle ended the weekend a point behind Brighton in the Premier League standings after Graham Potter’s south coast side beat rivals Southampton 2-1 on Sunday, to move three points clear of 18th-placed Fulham.
United have the worst goal difference among the three relegation-threatened sides, but – like Brighton – continue to hold a game in hand over the Cottagers, who lost 3-0 to Manchester City on Saturday and return to action away to Leeds United on Friday night.
Bruce will be desperate for a positive update on Almiron’s potential involvement against Brighton ahead of Newcastle’s trip to the Amex Stadium, having seen his side struggle in the 27-year-old’s absence.
United had serious issues carving out chances to test Sam Johnstone against West Bromwich Albion at the start of the month, with a Jonjo Shelvey shot from a corner and an attempt from Joe Willock the only efforts to pose any real threat.
The Toon had to rely on centre-back Jamaal Lascelles snatching a point against Aston Villa last time out, as well, having seen £40m striker Joelinton often choose the wrong option in the final third and Dwight Gayle cut an invisible and frustrated figure.
Almiron, though, had finally found a vein of form before sustaining his injury, having netted three of his four goals for the Premier League season after offering one in 17 games.
His improved output came after a move into a more centralised position in behind the strikers, much to Bruce’s delight, and that form is why Newcastle will need him on Saturday.
“With the change in formation and system, the one person who’s benefitted from it all, basically, is Almiron – he’s been terrific,” Bruce said.
“He’s a great pro, a great lad – a joy to work with. My job would be easy if they were all like Almiron. He’s playing very, very well at the minute, which is pleasing. You need your big players to stand up. Miggy has proved very, very good for us.”