Willems will not be risked in the FA Cup but he does expect to be fit on January 11 when Newcastle head to Wolves in the Premier League – and he thinks the hectic schedule has contributed to his problem.
“I’ve never known anything like that the other day with the injuries. It’s difficult. You play three games in seven days,” said Willems. “It was my groin and hamstrings. Everybody feels something. I’ve played all the games.
“For me, it’s the first time I have had this (many games over Christmas). Normally, you have a break. But now you just keep going. The Prem is not like other leagues. It’s pretty difficult, but it’s nothing bad, bad, bad. I think I will be there for the next Prem game.
“It’s difficult for me, because it’s my first time. It’s not like I didn’t want to play or something, or I felt something before. I will be there.”
Newcastle have lost three in a row over Christmas and now they will look for an injury-hit squad to progress to avoid an eighth third round exit from the last 14 FA Cup ties in January. Willems is convinced a positive half-season is not set for a downturn.
He said: “I have confidence. We have a lot of players where it’s the first time they play Boxing Day and everything. They need to get used to it. When we get rest we’re capable of doing everything and giving everything. I’m enjoying it. Newcastle’s a big club, for me. It’s a nice club. I would like to stay here. We will see.”
Bruce will have to name a very unfamiliar looking side at Rochdale, with Christian Atsu, Dwight Gayle and Yoshinori Muto all likely to figure. Joelinton might also start as Bruce looks for him to get his second goal for the club.