football

Newcastle receive huge Allan Saint-Maximin boost ahead of Aston Villa trip


Allan Saint Maximin is back in Newcastle United’s squad – and Steve Bruce has blasted as “fake news” suggestions they had a fall out.

Under-fire boss Steve Bruce told of his relief that the French winger has recovered without organ damage after two months out with coronavirus.

Bruce insists Saint-Maximin, who is likely to be on the bench against Aston Villa on Saturday night, will “bring back some arrogance, swagger and flair.”

He said: “The good news is that Alan will take some part. In 18 months here he has given us a lift. He has been out two months with this horrible virus, but he is on the mend.

“It’s been really tough. We’ve all had to endure lockdowns but when you’ve had the problems that Allan has had with this… the one thing Allan wants to do is run around and play football. That gives him joy.



Saint-Maximin is back in contention
Saint-Maximin is back in contention

“It was good to see him in the last week or so because he’s bounced around the training ground. He’s delighted to be given the go-ahead and thankfully this virus hasn’t scarred any of the organs which it attacked.

“Let’s hope he can come and give us a spark. The team needs that bit of his flair, style, arrogance, swagger and pace that we have been missing at the top end of the pitch.

“A team like ours will miss our most creative player. We built a system around counter attack with him. He gives us pace at the other end.

“He looks in decent shape. That gives everyone a lift.”

Since Saint-Maximin was struck down with a dozen other players at the end of November, Newcastle have lost seven of their 11 games.



Newcastle boss Steve Bruce
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce

Bruce added: “I’ve seen it written three or four times that I’d had a fall out. I can honestly tell you I’ve had no real fall out with him. Where it comes from I don’t know. It is certainly fake news. Fake news!”

Newcastle have not won in nine games, and Bruce needs a quick turnaround in fortunes. He has suffered a deluge of criticism from fans.

He wants to bring Bournemouth coach Graeme Jones to his backroom staff. It the deal is signed off by Mike Ashley it will be a major boost to his hopes of staying in charge.

Bruce said: “I have got a belief in my ability to take us through this. When you manage nearly 500 games in the Premier League it is no fluke I am still here.”

Alan Shearer claims that no manager can be a success under Mike Ashley.

But Bruce said: “I gauge success last year as matching Rafa’s tally of points, of where we finished, because that’s where we are at this particular moment.

“We are in the bottom half of the Premier League and have been there for the best part of 15 years. What’s realistic for where we are? In between 11th and 16th, is that realistic?

“Rafa, who I have obviously heard a lot of and have the hugest respect for, like all you have, where did he finish? He was a world-class manager. Where did he finish? Is that success?

“We matched the mighty Rafa last year. We will try to do the best we can again this year.”





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