NEWCASTLE UNITED have banned the morning handshake in a bid to prevent the coronavirus from sweeping through the club’s training ground.

Magpies boss Steve Bruce has revealed the move at his pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow’s visit of Burnley at St James’ Park.

Newcastle, who have welcomed back Jonjo Shelvey from injury ahead of the Clarets test, are looking to ensure they have done everything possible to keep the virus at bay.

Coronavirus has mainly affected China but more cases are being reported across the world, and more than 400 have been discovered in Italy. There have been further fresh cases confirmed in the UK today. 

A Serie C footballer tested positive for the COVID-19 in Italy while Inter Milan’s Europa League clash with Ludogorets on Thursday night was played behind-closed-doors.

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce said: “The ritual here is we shake hands every day, we have stopped that on the advice of the doctor.

"We have a superb doctor here and he will keep us informed, we are all glued to the TV and let’s hope it doesn’t get any worse in this country.

“In confined areas like we have got, like over Christmas we had a virus that wasn’t cornonavirus, you have to be careful, we are mindful of a bug sweeping through. We had four or five, you just have to stay at home. It is always something you are looking at.”

Newcastle head into tomorrow’s visit of Burnley looking to end a run of just one league win in nine games and aiming to preserve a seven point gap to the relegation zone.

Shelvey is back from hamstring trouble but Ciaran Clark will not play again this season because of ankle ligament damage.

Bruce said: “Ciaran looks as if, deciding whether he will have the operation or not, he has damaged ankle ligament damage badly. The decision is whether to operate or not. We will decide in next 48 hours.

“He has been excellent this season, cruel in that respect, Matt Ritchie was out for four months, now Ciaran, Paul Dummett … it’s been never ending. When it is from an impact in the game you can’t legislate for it.

“Disappointing for Ciaran, one of the better players for us this year. The blessing is even with Ciaran, Dummy out we still have four. In that area we are quite strong. That helps.

“We are OK. Andy Carroll is not going to make it. The rest have trained. Should be OK. Jonjo has trained for the last ten days, good to see him back. Javier Manquillo is back as well. All of a sudden we have 20 outfield to choose from rather than the 12 a few weeks ago, probably.

“The hardest part is you can only pick 11, the other ten will be disappointed. You hope you pick right. Most understand, without the squad we would not have survived this year without the squad. If You don’t play on a Saturday I expected half a dozen of them not be happy.”

Bruce is considering a change of formation for the game.

He said: “it’s something we have talked about and worked on, in the top teams how often do you see a team go to a back three, the big teams sometimes change every other week. It is something that is normal. It gives us another string to the bow and we will see.

“Very early on, it was evident the players were quite comfortable in what they had done before. The glaring facts are we don’t score enough so we have to be more of a threat in the opposing half and we have to be working on.

“If that’s a new era then we will try. That has been our Achilles heel all season. In the past we were OK but I think has waned a bit. We have to cause problems for the opposition.”