Newcastle United will host Brighton and Hove Albion at St James’ Park this afternoon and will be hoping to capitalise on the visitors’ poor form in the Premier League after three consecutive losses.
Eddie Howe has now been given a lifeline when it comes to boosting the Magpies’ chances of taking all three points from the game, with a glimmer of hope that Allan Saint-Maximin could be available for the fixture this afternoon.
The 44-year-old confirmed in his pre-match press conference that the Frenchman has returned to training and could be in contention for selection, saying: “Maxi still hasn’t trained with the group yet and we will make a late assessment. We’ll have to make a decision based on how he looks and how his injury status is after that training session.”
Despite a lack of first team training for the player, Howe may value the importance of seizing the opportunity to pull further away from the relegation zone. The potential selection of Saint-Maximin in the team today would speak volumes on how much the manager trusts and relies on his presence in the team.
The £28.8m-rated star, who was dubbed “remarkable” by Joleon Lescott, has been a driving force for Newcastle this season. He is currently their second-highest scorer and their leading creator, scoring five goals and registering three assists so far this season.
His influence in the team is unrivalled, with the Magpies unbeaten in his last five appearances, and they will be hoping that his return will further boost their current impressive run of form.
Even Brighton manager Graham Potter took to his pre-match press conference to label the 24-year-old “unplayable”, saying: “He’s very explosive and very dynamic. He’s one of those players that gets people off their seats.”
“I can understand why Newcastle fans think he’s fantastic. When he is at his best he is as unplayable as anyone in the league.”
That said, it will be interesting to see whether Howe takes the risk on Saint-Maximin today, either starting him in the team or bringing him off the bench to make a late impact to ensure that Newcastle can take another three points and secure an even more comfortable position in the Premier League.
If that happens, the manager could get St James’ Park rocking, with the exciting Frenchman potentially having another big say on proceedings.
In other news: Newcastle must be regretting letting this man leave