Steve Bruce is confident his Newcastle side can cope with the loss of Ciaran Clark should the defender fail to recover from a knock in time to face Aston Villa.
Republic of Ireland centre-back Clark suffered an injury while on international duty, and despite skipper Jamaal Lascelles also being sidelined until the new year with a fractured tibia, Magpies boss Bruce believes he has enough options at his disposal.
Florian Lejeune is in line to return on Monday night having been out of action since April with an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
Paul Dummett is in contention having featured on the bench in each of the last four matches, while Fabian Schar has overcome a knee problem.
Bruce said of the situation: “The big one is obviously Flo, because he’s been out for so long. But he’s done everything – he’s played, he’s got minutes under his belt on the training ground and he’s ready to go.
“The same goes for Schar; as long as they come through the next two or three days unscathed then they’ll both come into contention, and that can only be a good thing.
“There comes a point where you can’t keep training and training and training; you have to be thrown into the deep end, if that’s the right word.
“But (Lejeune) is a wonderful pro. He’s the first in, the last to go and he’s done everything he possibly can. He feels he’s ready, and I think that’s the most important thing – he knows his knee better than anybody. He’s done all his minutes and he’s ready to go.
“If there’s anywhere on the pitch we’re blessed, (it’s in central defence); we’ve got six of them who are very, very decent at what they do. Touch wood, whatever combination we have put together have done OK.
“The competition there is very, very healthy and good, which is a good thing. We’re losing one – possibly two – but we’re fortunate because we can bring another two in, so it’s not a bad situation.”
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