The Frenchman was rushed back to first team action by Bruce against Tottenham Hotspur last month in his comeback from a pre-existing injury, and so this is a problem all of the head coach’s own making.
Now, he’s provided an update: “Saint-Maximin now is doing his rehabilitation work,” he said, as per the Shields Gazette. “He’s out on the grass. I think we have got to build his fitness levels before we treat his hamstring, so there’s a bit of a conundrum with him at the moment, because he hasn’t really done any pre-season.
“Because of the knockbacks he’s had and the injuries, we haven’t been able to get him up to speed to the level I think he requires.”
Bruce is kind of bemoaning his own lack of judgement, here, because he should have been more sensitive to the fact that Saint-Maximin wasn’t 100% fit before he rushed him back against Spurs. There was simply no need for him to start that game, particularly with how good Christian Atsu has looked so far this season, but yet Bruce played the former OGC Nice man. He wanted to play with his fancy new toy, and he was punished for that. He talks about how Saint-Maximin didn’t have a pre season because of his stand-off with Nice before he got his move to St James’ Park, yet he still felt it was worth the risk to throw him in against Mauricio Pochettino’s side. That makes sense, and he’s seemingly only now realising that it’s better to take things slow with the 22-year-old. Still, better late than never, but Bruce needs to keep this situation in mind for the next time he has a player making a comeback from injury.