Newcastle United defender Florian Lejeune is set to hand Steve Bruce an injury boost for the Magpies’ Premier League trip to Chelsea, according to the Chronicle.
Lejeune is yet to feature for Newcastle in a competitive fixture since Bruce was appointed as the successor to Rafa Benitez (TransferMarkt), but is said to have enjoyed another full week in training at Benton with the Toon first-team.
Lejeune saw his game time under Benitez cut short last season when he suffered a serious knee injury in April, after rupturing his left anterior cruciate ligament in a 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace (Chronicle).
The blow came just eight months after sustaining the same injury to his right knee, and meant that the Frenchman did not make his season debut during the 2018/19 campaign until facing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge that December (TransferMarkt).
Paris-born Lejeune has been ramping up his rehabilitation at Newcastle’s training facilities over the past weeks, and is understood to be getting sharper ahead of the Magpies’ trip to Chelsea on October 19.
Newcastle are expected to play Lejeune’s return carefully this season given the influential presence he carries over the senior players on Tyneside, but is seen to be in contention to play in West London next week, should he be needed.
Bruce will also have Ciaran Clark, Paul Dummett and Federico Fernandez on hand at Stamford Bridge later this month, as well, so it is unlikely that Lejeune will feature at this stage, but he may make the bench like he did against Manchester United a year ago before earning his season debut the following week (per TransferMarkt).
Having Lejeune back fit and ready to go will be a huge boost for Bruce, as the 28-year-old offered Benitez more than just a leader at the back last term, but also one of his best central defenders when fit.
Only Fabian Schar recorded more successful tackles per ninety minutes than Lejeune in the league last season (WhoScored), with the Swiss centre-half penning 2.7 to his French colleague’s 2.1.
Lejeune also ranked joint-second to Schar for interceptions (1.8 to 2.8) and passes blocked (0.9 to 1.1), while ranking first for accurate long (6.9) and short passes (29.7).
Does Lejeune get straight back into the team?
Newcastle fans, should Bruce risk Lejeune against Chelsea, or keep the Frenchman back until facing Wolves the following week? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…
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