Steve Bruce’s Newcastle XI for West Ham taking shape after Dubravka injury

Karl Darlow is in line for his first Premier League appearance in two and a half years on the opening day of the season with Newcastle rival Martin Dubravka ruled out with an ankle injury.

The Slovakian's understudy thought he was in line for a recall when Dubravka damaged his knee during the Toon's 1-0 win at Southampton in March.

But just when Darlow was preparing for his long-awaited return, football went into lockdown.

And when it returned three months later, Dubravka was fit again and able to maintain his record of appearing in every league game since joining the Magpies from Sparta Prague in January 2018.

Toon boss Steve Bruce signed Mark Gillespie from Motherwell earlier this summer but is set to give Darlow – his regular Cup-tie keeper – the nod when he takes his team to West Ham next month.

Dubravka, who has pulled out of the Slovakian squad for their Nations Cup games against Israel and the Czech Republic is expected to be absent for six to eight weeks.

It's been a bad week on the injury front for Bruce with striker Dwight Gayle facing a lenghty lay-off after hurting his knee in Tuesday's 3-0 friendly win against Crewe.

Record buy Joelinton has not been with the squad at their York training camp and though the club won't confirm anything, it is understood the Brazilian is self-isolating before linking up with his team-mates.

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With Japanese forward Yoshi Muto not in Bruce's long-term plans, Andy Carroll could be Newcastle's only fit striker for the big kick-off unless the Toon boss makes a break in the transfer market.

Former Mainz frontman Muto has struggled to adapt to English football but remains highly regarded in Germany and there is also interest in Spain.

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