Allan Saint-Maximin now has an immediate route back into the Newcastle XI
Photo by David Horton - CameraSport via Getty Images

Allan Saint-Maximin now has an immediate route back into the Newcastle XI

Allan Saint-Maximin hasn’t been in the Newcastle United starting XI since August, but that could now change in our next game.

The 25-year-old returned to Eddie Howe’s squad on Saturday, coming off the bench for the final five minutes of the 4-0 thrashing of Aston Villa. It was a typical cameo from the mercurial Frenchman, running at defenders at will and getting fans on the edge of their seats.

It was a real joy to see Saint-Maximin back in the mix. It’s been a frustrating season for the winger, who has missed a large chunk of action due to injury.

He picked up a hamstring problem in the 1-1 draw with Wolves, which was the last time he started a game. He then missed five games before making a cameo off the bench against Brentford.

Then injury struck again, with a recurring muscle problem forcing Saint-Maximin to miss three more games.

Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

But he is back now, and will hopefully be able to take a full part in training this week. If that does happen, he will be pushing for a place in the starting XI away at Southampton on Sunday.

And suspension might just create an opening for the £16million man.

Joelinton suspension could let Saint-Maximin back into the Newcastle XI

While Saint-Maximin is pushing for a start at Southampton, Joelinton will not be involved. The Brazilian was excellent against Villa, scoring his first goal of the season.

However, he also picked up his fifth booking, which means he is suspended for the trip to the South Coast.

Howe will therefore have to make one change to his starting lineup, with a gaping hole emerging on the left of attack. And that is the position Saint-Maximin has called his own since joining Newcastle…except when Steve Bruce played him as a striker.

It might be deemed too soon for ASM to be starting again, but the added incentive of knowing there’s a space in the side could push the Toon number 10 to really prove his fitness this week.

He does have competition, and will need to show he is ready to start ahead of the likes of Jacob Murphy and Ryan Fraser. The former is probably most likely to start, given how well he did off the bench against Villa.

But most fans will want to see Saint-Maximin. We’ve done very well in his absence, but he has still been a big miss. Hopefully his time away from the starting lineup ends on Sunday.

If it does, he can thank Joelinton and his ill-discipline.