The international break is finally over until March, and Premier League football returns with Chelsea's visit to St James' Park to take on Newcastle United on Saturday lunchtime.
Both sides are feeling the effects of the break though, with injuries and fatigue from travelling set to affect both managers’ team selections.
Steve Bruce is unlikely to be able to call upon Miguel Almiron from the start after he only arrived back from Paraguay on Thursday night, roughly the same time as Thiago Silva landed after being part of Brazil’s World Cup Qualifying campaign.
At 36, Silva is set to miss out as Chelsea embark on three games in seven days, meaning Antonio Rudiger or Andreas Christensen could partner Kurt Zouma at the back for the Blues.
Newcastle have had Jonjo Shelvey back in training for the past few days after a hernia operation, although he’s unlikely to start the game as he regains match fitness, and Ryan Fraser is also out after missing Scotland’s qualification for Euro 2020 with a thigh issue.
There’s better news on Callum Wilson though, who Steve Bruce says is desperate to play after coming off with a hamstring worry in the 2-0 defeat to Southampton before the break. The Magpies boss says if there is a risk with his fitness he won’t play, but has looked comfortable in training for the past few days.
Matt Ritchie could make his return to the squad after a shoulder injury picked up earlier this season, but Paul Dummett remains unavailable despite returning to training over a fortnight ago. Dwight Gayle and Martin Dubravka are both still missing also, with the goalkeeper hopeful of returning before Christmas.
With injuries aplenty, you’d think Bruce would be in favour of the five-sub rule coming into effect like it has in the Football League, but he has explained that he’s not in favour of the rule change, saying he doesn’t think fatigue is the real reason players are picking up injuries.
He went on to explain that he thinks it’s the amount of games being played so quickly that’s the problem. Sounds like something five subs could help with if you ask us Steve…
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard confirmed on Thursday that Christian Pulisic remains out for the trip to Newcastle, despite stepping up his training after a hamstring injury. Kai Havertz is also likely to miss out after only rejoining training late in the week after self-isolating at home for two weeks as a result of exposure to COVID-19.
Ben Chilwell missed England’s win over Iceland with a back injury, but should be fit to start against Newcastle, while Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech and N’Golo Kante all came through international games comfortably and will be involved again.
Chelsea will go top of the Premier League table with a win at St James’ Park, ahead of Tottenham vs Man City later on Saturday, and Leicester’s game against Liverpool on Sunday night.
Newcastle will be hoping to repeat last season’s result against the Blues though, when Isaac Hayden’s late header earned them a 1-0 win.
Newcastle United take on Chelsea at St James’ Park on Saturday, November 21st. Kick-off is at 12.30pm.