STEVE BRUCE is ready to unleash Miguel Almiron and Ryan Fraser as he prepares to make significant attacking changes for Newcastle United’s trip to Wolves on Sunday.

The Magpies head to Molineux still licking their wounds from last weekend’s 4-1 home defeat to Manchester United, a game that saw them struggle to lay a glove on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side despite being handed a fortuitous second-minute lead when Luke Shaw put the ball into his own net.

Karl Darlow is expected to win his battle to recover from the leg injury that hampered his movement in the second half of last Saturday’s game, so it is at the other end of the pitch where Bruce is set to look to shuffle his pack.

Almiron was not considered for a starting spot seven days ago because he had just returned from a gruelling international break with Paraguay, but the attacking midfielder is expected to make what would only be his second Premier League start of the season in place of the persistently ineffectual Joelinton on Sunday.

Fraser is still to make his first league start since joining as a free agent following his release from Bournemouth, but having continued to build up his fitness while on international duty with Scotland, the midfielder has every chance of replacing Jeff Hendrick against Wolves. Hendrick started his Newcastle career with a bang against West Ham United on the opening weekend, but was little more than a passenger last weekend.

“It’s probably fair to say they’ve (Almiron and Fraser) not had that much of a chance yet, but we’re only four or five games in,” said Bruce. “With Ryan in particular, he hadn’t kicked a ball since last March.

“We knew we had to box a bit clever with him, and that’s the way we’ve been. Playing for Scotland has certainly helped him, that’s for sure. But the one thing we’ve got as a squad at the moment is we’ve got five or six attacking players really pushing for a place – Ryan, Miguel, Allan (Saint-Maximin), Andy Carroll, Callum Wilson – they’re all good players in their own right, and you can also throw in Jacob Murphy, who has done very well in the cup competitions in particular.

“We’ve got competition for places, and they’ll all play their part. We’re only five games in, and we can’t pick them all, but that’s what we’ve got a squad for.

“You know what I think of Almiron, but I did think it was going to be unfair on him in particular last weekend when he didn’t get back on the Friday from being halfway around the world in South America. He didn’t come into the equation last week, but with the way he plays and trains, and the way he is in general, he’s always there or thereabouts. He’s a very good player.”

Darlow could barely walk when he left the pitch last Saturday night, having injured his leg in a second-half collision with Marcus Rashford.

The damage was largely superficial, but it has proved difficult to shake and the goalkeeper has not been able to train as usual this week.

He was still experiencing some discomfort yesterday, but while Bruce insists summer signing Mark Gillespie will be capable of deputising if required, the Newcastle boss remains hopeful Darlow will successfully pass a fitness test on Sunday morning.

“He’s still sore,” he said. “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.

“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.”

Isaac Hayden also suffered an injury issue last weekend, but tests have revealed the midfielder was suffering from cramp rather than a hamstring issue and it is hoped he will be passed fit for Sunday.

Sean Longstaff is also back in the squad after recovering from a bout of tonsilitis, but his brother, Matty, continued his comeback with a second successive appearance for the Under-23s earlier today.

Newcastle drew both of their matches against Wolves last season, but Bruce regards Sunday’s game as one of the toughest tests on the calendar given the strength of Nuno Espirito Santo’s side.

“I played against them a couple of years ago and they blew the Championship away,” he said. “They had four or five players who were just too good for it.”

Newcastle (probable, 4-4-1-1): Darlow; Manquillo, Lascelles, Fernandez, Lewis; Saint-Maximin, Hayden, Shelvey, Fraser; Almiron; Wilson.