NEWCASTLE UNITED’S coronavirus problems have intensified with two more staff members understood to have received a positive test.

Steve Bruce confirmed on Thursday that three members of the Magpies’ playing and coaching staff were self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus, with the latest two positive tests received over the weekend taking the club’s list of virus victims to five.

Newcastle have introduced a series of new protocols ahead of Friday’s game at Aston Villa, and abandoned plans to stage a full training session today in an attempt to prevent any further spreading of the disease.

A new round of testing has taken place, and with further results expected over the next 48 hours, it is feared more positive results could throw preparations for the trip to Villa Park into chaos.

Bruce stated last Thursday that one of the people to receive positive tests last week was a player who would otherwise have featured in the starting line-up for Friday’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace, and while it is not known whether this weekend’s positives involved members of the playing squad, the fact new infections are emerging is a major cause for concern.

Andy Carroll, Allan Saint-Maximin, Isaac Hayden and Emil Krafth were absent from the squad at Selhurst Park, although Saint-Maximin is understood to have suffered a muscular injury towards the end of last week.

“It has been a tough week,” admitted Bruce, in the wake of his side’s win at Selhurst Park. “Can we avoid it (an increase in the outbreak)? We sincerely hopes so. It is very difficult at the minute.

“It is a concern, and difficult to manage, but we are trying our utmost to make sure we try and stay as safe as we can.

“Of course, my concern is not just the welfare of the players, which is vitally important, but my members of staff too. We will do our best, but it is difficult at the moment.”

Meanwhile, Derby County have been linked with a possible January loan move for Magpies midfielder Matty Longstaff.

Steve McClaren has been installed as Derby’s new technical director, and has identified the younger of the Longstaff brothers, who signed a new contract with Newcastle in the summer, as a target.