HOW do you solve a problem like Callum Wilson’s hamstrings? Steve Bruce will be desperately hoping the answer becomes clear tonight.

Newcastle United head to Chelsea without their leading goalscorer, a scenario that is set to be repeated for the next two months. Wilson’s significant hamstring tear is a major personal blow to the 28-year-old, surely scuppering any lingering hopes of him being able to force his way into Gareth Southgate’s plans for this summer’s European Championships, but it threatens to be even more damaging to Newcastle as a team.

Wilson has single-handedly shouldered the responsibility for providing the Magpies with an attacking threat all season, scoring ten of the club’s 25 Premier League goals. He has missed just two league matches this term, and both saw Newcastle lose without scoring.

He will be missing again tonight though, with Bruce set to turn to Dwight Gayle as he looks for an alternative to lead the line. Gayle’s sole goal this term came as a substitute against West Brom in December, and while he performed creditably towards the end of last season, he has never quite convinced as a Premier League striker during his time on Tyneside.

Andy Carroll has excelled in the past, but on the evidence of his performances this season, his best days are almost certainly behind him. Joelinton’s best days continue to look as though they will never arrive.

The list of alternatives available to Bruce is hardly appealing, but with Wilson set miss more than half of Newcastle’s remaining matches, there is clearly a pressing need for someone to step up to the plate.

“Let’s hope we can cope with it,” said Bruce, whose side dropped to within one place of the relegation positions when Burnley claimed a 3-0 win at Crystal Palace on Saturday. “Let’s hope somebody can step up to the mark. We have certainly got players who are capable – let’s hope they can grasp it.

“We can’t change the way things are. It is what it is, and we have to have somebody now who can step up. They will be hard shoes to fill because of the impact Callum has had. To have ten goals in a team which is halfway in the bottom half of the division is a wonderful return. But as I’ve said, we’re capable. Let’s hope somebody can step up.”

Perhaps, with a few tactical tweaks, Miguel Almiron could ride to Newcastle’s rescue? The Paraguayan has appeared reborn since Bruce adopted a more front-foot approach last month, scoring in the home defeat to Leeds and adding another two goals in last weekend’s 3-2 home win over Southampton.

Almiron certainly looks happier with some of his defensive responsibilities removed, and with Allan Saint-Maximin also building up his match sharpness with every appearance, maybe at least some of the impact of Wilson’s absence can be alleviated by an increased threat from the attacking-midfield positions?

“The change in system over the last few weeks has certainly benefited Almiron, that's for sure,” said Bruce. “He’s been very, very good of late, so let's hope that can continue.”

Ciaran Clark will return to bolster Newcastle’s back four tonight, with Bruce also hoping that one or both of Jamaal Lascelles and Federico Fernandez will be available. Emil Krafth will start at right-back in the absence of the injured Javier Manquillo, but Jeff Hendrick is suspended following his dismissal against Southampton.

Newcastle (probable, 4-3-2-1): Darlow; Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Lewis; Shelvey, Hayden, Willock; Almiron, Saint-Maximin; Gayle.