(Reuters) - Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce said on Friday he will not rush back the two players in his squad who are still facing the "damaging effects" of COVID-19 following an outbreak of the virus at the Premier League club.
Earlier this month, Newcastle were forced to close their training ground after several players and staff members tested positive for the novel coronavirus and their match against Aston Villa was postponed.
Bruce did not name the players severely affected by the virus but said the pair could be out of action for a long period.
"I really don't know but certainly, for a couple of the players in particular, it's had a damaging effect," said Bruce when asked about their return. "So it won't be a week or two - it's going to be longer than that.
"We hope they recover properly and I give them the time to recover because it's about the welfare of them and their long-term health. If one or two of them have got long-term COVID, like it seems, then it's very difficult to manage."
Bruce's side are 14th in the table with 17 points from 12 games and host 18th-placed Fulham, who have nine points from 13 games, on Saturday.
Last week, the manager of Bundesliga club RB Leipzig Julian Nagelsmann said striker Hwang Hee-chan will not play any more games this year as he deals with the lingering effects of COVID-19.
(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)