After an underwhelming return against West Ham, Allan Saint-Maximin retained his place in the Newcastle starting XI on Saturday night.
Eddie Howe stuck by the Frenchman, and he played a big role in the Magpies winning a point against Bournemouth.
Newcastle were really poor at the Vitality Stadium, and were lucky not to be behind going into the break. Miguel Almiron snatched an equaliser on the stroke of half time for his 10th goal of the season, but it would not have been possible without ASM.
The 25-year-old’s first involvement was a lunge to keep the ball in play. It then fell to him again, as his pass inside played Sean Longstaff through on goal. The local lad’s shot was saved, but Almiron was on hand to tap in the rebound.
Saint-Maximin contributed in the final third unlike last week, and Howe has admitted that he thinks the winger produced a much better performance.
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Eddie Howe pleased with Allan Saint-Maximin’s ‘step up’
The Newcastle boss spoke to NUFC TV after the game, and praised Saint-Maximin for his performance against the Cherries.
“I think Maxi had some really good moments today,” Howe said.
“I think it was a definite step up in performance from last week, but that’s natural because he’s re-finding his game rhythm.
“I thought he was a real threat so he can be pleased with his work, as a number of the players can.”
Fresh injury concern for Newcastle winger ASM
While Howe may think Saint-Maximin played better, he ended the game sweating over his fitness once again. Maxi was forced off with what appeared to be a knee injury, and he was one of three Toon players who were forced off against Bournemouth.
Saint-Maximin will be devastated if he is set for another spell on the sidelines. He has only just returned to the starting lineup, with the game against West Ham being his first Premier League start since August.
Bruno Guimaraes’ suspension has handed Saint-Maximin an opportunity, and there could now be a place in the Carabao Cup final starting lineup up for grabs after Joe Willock picked up an injury against Bournemouth.
But Maxi also has an injury concern, and will be praying that it does not force him to miss any games. He needs this run of matches, and was certainly more productive against Bournemouth than he was in the draw with the Hammers.