STEVE BRUCE will give Karl Darlow until the very last minute to prove his fitness for Sunday’s Premier League game at Wolves.

Darlow sustained a painful leg injury when he collided with Marcus Rashford during last weekend’s 4-1 defeat to Manchester United, and while the goalkeeper was able to complete the game, he was in obvious discomfort for much of the second half.

He has not been able to train properly this week, and Mark Gillespie is on standby to make his top-flight debut at Molineux on Sunday.

However, it is still hoped Darlow will be able to retain his place in the side, with the keeper having been pencilled in for a last-minute fitness test on Sunday morning.

Bruce said: “He’s still sore. But he’s made a huge improvement from where he was on Saturday night. We’re going to have to take it down to the wire.

“It’s an impact injury, there’s no tear, but it’s in a very sore region where he’s taken an awful knock. He’s better than he was, but whether he’s going to be fit or not we’ll have to see over the next 48 hours.”

Gillespie was a summer signing from Motherwell, and having played in all three of Newcastle’s Carabao Cup matches this season, Bruce is confident the 28-year-old will be able to handle the demands of the Premier League if called upon on Sunday.

He said: “We hope Karl can make it, but Mark has played in the cup competitions and done well. It’s why we brought him here.

“He’s played three times in the cup and that looks a good shout now, especially if he has to make his debut. He’s an experienced goalkeeper who has played in the Scottish Premier League for four or five years.”

Sean Longstaff has recovered from a bout of tonsilitis to reclaim a place in the squad, while Ciaran Clark, Paul Dummett and Matty Longstaff all came through an Under-23s game at the start of the week unscathed.

Bruce said: “The three lads who played in the Under-23s have all benefited from that, and Matty Longstaff will play again (for the U23s) today.

“His brother, Sean, has declared himself okay. He’s had a horrible bout of tonsilitis, but we’ve got one or two coming back and that can only be a good thing.”