Steve Bruce puts timescale on Matt Ritchie's Newcastle United comeback

Steve Bruce is hoping for a double injury boost in the New Year.

Bruce hopes to have captain Jamaal Lascelles and Matt Ritchie back in a couple of weeks.

Ritchie has been sidelined since August with an ankle problem which has needed two operations, while Lascelles suffered a leg injury last month.

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Allan Saint-Maximin (hamstring) and Ciaran Clark (calf) are also due back next month along with Ki Sung-yueng, who has been ill.

Matt Ritchie.

“Lascelles back at the turn of the year, Ritchie the same,” said Bruce, United’s head coach. “Ki’s been sick. Ciaran will be the next week or 10 days. Saint-Maximim another four weeks.”

Meanwhile, Jonjo Shelvey (calf) and Miguel Almiron (hamstring) – who missed last weekend’s defeat to Burnley – are expected to return against Crystal Palace at St James’s Park this afternoon.

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Asked if they would be available, Bruce said: “Think so, providing there is no reaction. Risk would have been last week because they were both close but being cautious was the right thing to do.”

Almiron is still looking for his first United goal. Bruce said: “The whole of Newcastle wants him to score that goal. You can just feel it in the ground. I wasn’t here last year, but my mates tell me that in January he was the spark which gave the team a lift at just the right time.

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“He’s been a delight to mange. Hard working, always smiling, great pro, good man. And a great team player. When you have someone like that, you want them to do well.”