STEVE BRUCE has admitted to a growing concern over Andy Carroll’s hip injury, and refused to put a timescale on the striker’s potential return.

Carroll will not be involved in Sunday’s Premier League game at Arsenal as he is currently unable to train because of a hip flexor problem.

The striker has not started a game since the 2-1 defeat at Everton in late December, and has only made one brief substitute appearance since the turn of the year.

His latest problem is unrelated to the serious ankle injury that almost ended his career at West Ham United, but the fact it is refusing to go away is causing increased concern.

Bruce said: “Andy is still not right, which is a concern for us going forward. We don’t think it’s serious with Andy. Thankfully, it’s not his ankle, but with the hip flexor problem, he gets to a certain level with his rehabilitation and he’s still not right.

“It’s a big frustration. There was a time before Christmas where he started a few games and that’s exactly why we brought him into the club.

“Unfortunately. he’s picked up this injury, which has drifted into five or six weeks when we expected it to be ten days. We’re not putting a timescale on it now, it’s just the way it is.”

Dwight Gayle and Yoshinori Muto have returned to training this week, but neither player is expected to be involved at the Emirates.

However, Joelinton is available to start after recovering from the knock that forced him off during the FA Cup replay victory at Oxford United.

Bruce said: “Joelinton’s was just a knock. Four or five days off for him and (Miguel) Almiron – the ones that have been at the pump constantly – they needed the break.

“He’s okay. It was a knock, but no fracture. He trains and plays every day. He scored a good goal against Oxford, he’s only a young lad, I’m sure he will still progress. He never shies away. There’s signs of improvement and that he’s used to playing in England.”

Both the Longstaff brothers will be in the squad at the weekend, but Bruce admits there has still been no progress with the ongoing contract discussions involving the two midfielders.

He said: “Again, they’re ongoing. I hope we can get the two of them tied up, but players these days have their own prerogative too and we have to respect that too.”