It does not take a genius to point out that Newcastle are struggling for attacking invention.

Eddie Howe’s side have not scored more than two goals in a Premier League game since Boxing Day and now the defence is starting to be breached more often, they cannot rely on grinding through tight games.

Such was their profligacy against Manchester City, club legend Alan Shearer vented his frustration at the situation, with the team’s lack of cutting edge costing them dearly.

Still, it’s not like Howe is without options. Alexander Isak has started only one Premier League game since returning from injury and is surely a better option than an out-of-form Callum Wilson at this stage.

Anthony Gordon, meanwhile, is yet to truly get going as a Newcastle player and it will be fascinating to see how the £40m man develops.

Then there’s Allan Saint-Maximin.

Howe’s verdict on Saint-Maximin questioned

So often the one shining light of the Steve Bruce era, the maverick Frenchman is struggling under Howe.

While Saint-Maximin started the season well and thrilled against Manchester City in August, he has been handed only three League starts since domestic football resumed following the World Cup.

In fact, his standing has dropped so much of late that former Premier League boss Chris Wilder questioned his value under Howe.

Speaking to BBC Radio Five Live (via The Chronicle), Howe said: “I do wonder if Eddie Howe really fancies Allan Saint-Maximin because I’d imagine he’d be playing, as one of the more important players, in a game as big as this today.”

Newcastle United v West Ham United - Premier League
Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

Saint-Maximin should start against Wolves

There are huge frustrations around Saint-Maximin at times. Though hugely talented and easy on the eye at his best, a lack of end product is obvious and the winger barely covered himself in glory during the Carabao Cup defeat.

Still, Newcastle look short of ideas and perhaps that maverick ability to conjure something out of nothing is what’s needed. With Wolves up at St James’ Park next, Saint-Maximin could hardly be more ineffective than any of Wilson, Gordon or Miguel Almiron were at City on Saturday.

It’s time to roll the dice.

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