Steve Bruce has admitted that he fears Javier Manquillo sustained an “awful” muscular injury as Newcastle United beat Southampton 3-2 on Saturday.
That’s according to The Northern Echo, who note that Callum Wilson also sustained a hamstring strain in the first half of the Premier League affair and that Fabian Schar suffered a severe knee problem with 12 minutes left to play.
Schar’s injury, which needed a stretcher to remove to Swiss centre-half, left United forced to play the final moments of the game with nine-men after Jeff Hendrick was shown a second yellow card following a needless tug on the shirt of Takumi Minamino before the break.
Manquillo was forced to limp off the field 24 minutes into only his ninth start of the top-flight campaign on Saturday, having opened four of the Magpies’ last five Premier League games since returning after he’d tested positive for coronavirus.
Bruce now fears the extent to which Manquillo’s muscular injury will affect the 26-year-old, having lost the Spaniard just days after sanctioning a free transfer for DeAndre Yedlin to join Galatasaray.
“That [the injuries] is the disappointing thing for me. For too long now, we’ve had people missing with injury and illness. It’s been desperate at times,” Bruce said following the game.
“Unfortunately, it looks as though we’ve picked up an awful injury with Manquillo, it looks like Fab Schar has a bad knee injury, and, of course, Callum Wilson now has a hamstring too.
“In that respect, in the cold light of day tomorrow, I’ll assess it all and think we’re taking one step forward and two back, which is down to illness and injury.”
Newcastle were already heavily depleted at the back with Ciaran Clark absent on Saturday after his partner went into labour late in the week, while Federico Fernandez was missing as he continues to feel the effects caused by Covid-19 and Jamaal Lascelles was out with a hamstring injury.
Emil Krafth came in off the bench to cover the full-back slot in Manquillo’s absence on Saturday, but any lengthy period out for the former Sunderland defender could open the door for Jacob Murphy to rush in and seize an opportunity.
Bruce has omitted Murphy from the Toon’s last three Premier League squads, with the £3m-rated dynamo last featuring in the top-flight when beaten 2-1 at home to Leeds United while earning only his eighth start in 13 outings this term.
The Magpies boss has laid down a gauntlet for Murphy to work his way back into the side and earn himself a new contract, with the 25-year-old hoping for a new, long-term deal with his current £25,000-per-week terms due to expire next summer.
“He is fine but, a bit like Matty and Sean Longstaff, finds himself on the sidelines at the minute,” Bruce said, via quotes by Chronicle Live, when asked if Murphy was injured ahead of the weekend. “So, he has to take the opportunity when it comes round again.”
Murphy has earned four of his eight Premier League starts at right-back this season, the same amount as he has featured from the off in his natural wide-right midfield role.
Those outings have also returned the same number of average successful tackles per game as Krafth (1.3), per WhoScored, who is likely to now earn the starting role after Manquillo’s injury.
Murphy further has offered more interceptions (1.5) than his Swedish teammate (1.3) when featuring at right-back, plus more crosses blocked (1 to 0.3), passes blocked (1.3 to 0.3), successful dribbles (3.5 to 0.3), accurate crosses (0.8 to 0.3) and key passes (0.8 to 0.5).
So, clearly, Murphy has the potential to seize on Manquillo’s injury and take up Bruce’s challenge, it just remains to be seen if he is able to play his way into earning some more game time and perhaps, a new contract.