MATT RITCHIE has suffered a set-back in training that Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce is unwilling to predict a recovery date.

The Scotland international had been nearing a return from the ankle ligament damage sustained in a tackle from Leicester’s Hamza Choudhury in late August.

But Bruce, who has been encouraged by the prospect of having defender Florian Lejeune back sooner rather than later, has revealed Ritchie is now facing a longer spell on the sidelines.

“Matt and Fab Shar haven’t made it, they’ve still got a bit to do,” said Bruce, ahead of tomorrow afternoon’s visit of Bournemouth.

“We don’t think it’s that bad for Fab. But Matt was going along so well, he has had a bit of reaction to it in training. He was going along nicely, when it was pretty serious after being operated on, but we thought he was back ten days ago, but in training he has pulled up in training and we will give him time off and let nature do its thinking.

“Lejeune has come through, this weekend is a bit soon for him, but we need to get some minutes into him. He played 70 minutes the other night and he is chomping at the bit.”

Newcastle climbed out of the Premier League’s bottom three by defeating West Ham United last weekend, and now the hope is that they can follow that up by winning at St James’ Park against the Cherries.

And, despite the improvements, he would love to see one of his forward line find the net after watching Joelinton, Allan Saint-Maximim and Miguel Almiron show plenty of positive signs of late.

“We know that they have still got to score, but it was good for Joe to make one last week, I know they are a threat,” said Bruce.

“Given time, they are young, they are getting used to playing in England, whoever you are whatever price tag, when you are trying to adapt to the Premier League it takes time. You don’t always get time these days. They were a threat last weekend and hopefully they can do the same this week.”

To achieve that Newcastle know they must find a way to close the four-point gap to seventh placed Bournemouth by delivering the points tomorrow.

“I am not looking for credit for the recent results,” said Bruce. “Most important is tomorrow, if we can get 15 points at this stage after tomorrow then we would all be delighted.

“With the new players, new system. New team, it all takes time. We are edging towards it. I am delighted with how we played last week and now I just want to back it up at home before the big December fixture pile up.”