Newcastle midfielder Sean Longstaff will miss Saturday’s Premier League trip to Liverpool after suffering a “freak” training-ground injury.
The 21-year-old, who has enjoyed a meteoric rise since making his top-flight debut as a substitute at Anfield on Boxing Day last year, damaged an ankle blocking a cross during Thursday’s session.
He is currently being assessed, leaving head coach Steve Bruce once again bemoaning his luck.
Bruce said: “It’s one of those awful ones. He goes to stop a cross and gets his ankle caught. It’s one of those freak ones that unfortunately happen.
“You come off the pitch and we’re all disappointed. We’ve lost a player to a freak accident, but that’s what happens in football. Sometimes, you miss out.”
Longstaff started only eight league games last season, but adapted to life in the big time so well that he was courted by Manchester United this summer, and he admitted this week that the speculation had proved a distraction.
He joins an injury list which already includes Allan Saint-Maximin, Matt Ritchie, Dwight Gayle and Andy Carroll, although the latter was due to see a specialist in London on Friday following ankle surgery earlier this year.
In the meantime, former Manchester United defender Bruce will attempt to end the Magpies’ 25-year wait for a league win at Anfield.
He said: “A record is always there to be broken. They haven’t lost at home for two and a half years and are the European champions. They are as good as you get. We hope to catch them on an off day.
“Up front, they are as good as I’ve seen so we’re going to have to defend well, but you have to try to enjoy it.”
The two clubs famously enjoyed a series of titanic struggles in the late 1990s as then Newcastle bosses Kevin Keegan and Kenny Dalglish attempted to get the better of their former employers on Merseyside, and narrowly came out on the wrong end of seven-goal thrillers.
Bruce, whose United side pipped the Magpies to the title in 1995-96, said: “I remember the two 4-3s, [Stan] Collymore getting the goal, unfortunately, in the last minute.
“They were great games, and they obviously helped us at the time at Manchester United.”