This article is part of Football FanCast’s Injury News series, which considers the impact of the latest updates on players’ fitness.
Matt Ritchie has undergone surgery on an ankle injury which means he will be out of action for a short while, and it could open the door for Allan Saint-Maximin to profit.
The 30-year-old has been a consistent member of the Magpies team since signing in 2016, and he hasn’t often spent time on the treatment table, making 38 appearances or more in each of his three seasons in the north-east.
He will, therefore, likely feel some level of frustration by being impacted by injury early on in this campaign, starting Newcastle’s first three league games as well as the League Cup clash against Leicester, the game in which he picked up the ankle injury that has kept him out ever since.
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However, the club have confirmed that he should be back in full training soon following successful surgery, with early hopes that he could return before the end of the month.
That will encourage the St James’ Park faithful and in the meantime they should get to see more of Saint-Maximin. Newcastle’s summer signing has been given a handful of chances by Steve Bruce so far and he has shown his quality in spurts, but there is a feeling that there is more to come.
The Frenchman arrived over the summer for £16.5m, a hefty fee by Newcastle’s standards, and therefore there is an expectation on him to perform to a high level on a consistent basis.
Miguel Almiron has faced a similar pressure and some Magpies fans may be expecting more from their new winger than the Paraguayan has shown so far, with zero goals and assists in 18 league games.
Saint-Maximin is still yet to get off the mark for goals and assists too, but the 22-year-old has shown drive and an ability on the ball which should serve Bruce well, as evidenced by his average of 2.3 successful dribbles per league game.
Last time out against Manchester United he picked up the ball in his own half before turning and running at goal with great effect, in a move which ultimately concluded with Matty Longstaff’s goal, and if he can show that more often he will be a success.
For now, he is still adjusting to the Premier League and is developing an understanding of what is expected from his manager, as well as how his teammates play.
Once he builds up that know-how he should be a lot more effective, and Ritchie’s injury will provide him with an ideal chance to do exactly that, as he should begin to start more often for his new side.