STEVE BRUCE hopes that his crocked Irish pair of Robbie Brady and Paul McShane will be fully fit for the start of next season after they were forced to go under the knife.
McShane had already been ruled out for the rest of this campaign due to an ankle injury, but now the club have been forced to admit defeat in their bid to get Brady ready for action before the end of the season, Brady having had surgery on a hernia problem which sees him ruled out until pre-season – a blow for his managers with club and country as he has not yet had a chance to feature for Ireland under Martin O'Neill.
"Robbie went to see a specialist and we decided to operate in the afternoon. We hope that's the end of it," Bruce said.
"It's a big operation he's had and we hope it's gone okay. Certainly we won't see him now until at least pre-season so we wish him the best of luck.
"He'd taken a bit of muscle away from the bone in his groin. They've reattached that so it's a fairly big operation. We hope this will put an end to the problems he's had for the last three or four months.
"There's always a question mark over how long it will be because it's a major operation he's had. We expect him to be in and around the first team in time for pre-season.
"We thought it was a bog standard hernia, obviously it wasn't. He's never really recovered from Newcastle away (in September), that's the first time he felt it. That's a long time.
"He'll be a big miss because he's a good player, Robbie. We've missed that natural stuff he brings on the left hand side.
"Robbie's been to see two or three people now and they've all come to the same conclusion.
"And it's the same for Macca (McShane) in that he's got a long summer ahead and there's nothing worse than a really bad injury.
"Again, we wish him well with his rehab, which is going to be long and difficult, but hopefully we'll also see him back by the start of next season."