Newcastle United have landed a potential boost with Fabian Schar stepping up his recovery from knee ligament surgery, but Steve Bruce will still have to wait before he can unleash the defender again.
Schar has been sidelined since the Toon beat Southampton 3-2 last month, having been one of three casualties of the Premier League fixture, along with Callum Wilson and Javier Manquillo.
Bruce ruled Schar out for eight weeks after the 29-year-old was forced to undergo surgery, such was the extent of the damage the Swiss international sustained to his knee ligaments.
Schar has now started running on an anti-gravity treadmill as he steps up his rehabilitation, having ditched the protective boot he had been forced to wear since going under the knife.
The AlterG treadmill helps players with their recovery by using air to unweight them to allow them to run freely and without pain, but using it is usually a sign that they remain some weeks away from a return to the pitch.
It remains to be seen if the £12m-rated enforcer will be able to play a part in Newcastle’s fight for Premier League survival, though Bruce expects Schar to do all that he can to prove his fitness ahead of this summer’s European Championship.
“He has an operation on his ligament and knee. He will try everything to get fit for the Euros,” Bruce said on February 11, via quotes by the Mirror. “He had the op on Tuesday, and it is eight weeks.”
The Southampton win marked Schar’s 13th start in 16 Premier League appearances for the season, having missed the start of the campaign with a shoulder injury and was later sidelined in early December after testing positive for coronavirus.
Having Schar back available, potentially after the upcoming international break, will come as a boost for Bruce in Newcastle’s fight for survival, having previously lauded the impact that the 29-year-old can provide at St. James’ Park.
Speaking at the start of the season while the 58-cap centre-back was sidelined after surgery on a shoulder injury, Bruce rejected speculation that Schar could be set for a last-ditch move away amid speculation of a potential transfer.
“He [Schar] certainly has a part to play here, although you can’t stop the speculation. Fab is recovering from a shoulder operation but is an important part of what we do. That hasn’t changed,” the Toon boss said, via quotes by The Northern Echo.
Schar ultimately stayed and proved to be a fixture of the United backline between spells on the sidelines, while establishing himself as one of the Magpies’ heroes against Manchester City on Boxing Day despite losing 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium.
He has been the most aggressive of Bruce’s centre-halves who have played five or more top-flight matches this season at winning possession back, too, with a positional-high 1.6 interceptions a game – only Joe Willock (2) and Isaac Hayden (1.7) make more, per WhoScored.
Newcastle will need those brave enough to break up opposition play if they are to remain a Premier League side for another season, with United lingering just two points above the drop zone and allowing the second-most shots per game (14.4) of any side in the division to date.