Steve Bruce ready to break silence at Newcastle United after Covid-19 outbreak

Newcastle United’s players will be back on the pitch on Saturday.

Steve Bruce’s players have had an enforced rest ahead of the busy festive period due to an outbreak of Covid-19 infections at the club.

The squad, aside from those self-isolating, returned to training on Tuesday, initially in small groups, ahead of Saturday’s game against West Bromwich Albion, which is set to go ahead.

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It could well be the last to be played behind closed doors at St James’s Park, as 2,000 fans could be allowed back into the stadium for the fixture against Fulham later this month.

Newcastle’s players, having missed more than a week’s training, have some catching up to do, having had to stay away from the training ground all last week ahead of the postponed game against Aston Villa.

They were given individual fitness programmes during their time away from the facility, and Bruce and his staff, also affected by the outbreak, have little time to prepare them collectively for the game against Slaven Bilic’s second-bottom team.

The last time we heard from anyone at the club was following the club’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace 12 days ago.

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“Look, it’s very difficult at the moment,” said head coach Bruce. “We’ve got three confirmed players, and, unfortunately, a member of my staff. So, of course, it’s a concern, and difficult to manage.

St James's Park.St James's Park.
St James's Park.

"We’re trying our utmost to safe as safe as we can. My concern isn’t just the welfare of the players, which is vitally important, it’s members of my staff too.”

Since then, the club has issued three statements.

Otherwise, there has been no comment. We still don’t know the numbers of confirmed cases among players and staff, the number of absentees this weekend – or whether the club will now return to bi-weekly Covid-19 tests.

Bruce could provide some answers tomorrow at his pre-match press conference.

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The club, thankfully, got the Covid-19 outbreak under control following the closure of the training ground. But did it control the story through its near-silence and refusal to confirm the number of infections?

Certainly, there are more questions than answers ahead of Bruce’s presser – and that’s before we get on to the match.

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