Date: 22nd January 2021 at 9:45am
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In a rare bit of good news for , has been pictured in first-team training by the club’s official Twitter account

What’s the story?

A mixture of a calf injury and the impact of COVID-19 has ruled the Frenchman out of the last eleven games across all competitions, depriving of arguably his most exciting attacker.

Indeed, despite the fact he’s missed a huge portion of the campaign, the 23-year-old remains the club’s most effective outlet. According to FBRef, no Newcastle player has registered more dribbles leading to shots (0.31 per game) than Saint-Maximin.

With Bruce’s side averaging the second-fewest shots per game in the (via WhoScored), it stands to reason that they will at least get efforts on goal away on a slightly more frequent basis with him in the team.

Of the club’s players to have made more than five appearances this , only top scorer (0.51) has contributed more goal creating actions per game than the winger (0.46). Throw in the fact no player has averaged carrying the ball more progressive yards per game than him too (169.2) and it’s clear he is capable of bringing something to an attack who have scored just once in seven games.

The Verdict

Clearly, we can’t expect Saint-Maximin to produce miracles and it’s important not to rush him back too quickly after so long out.

Still, having a player capable of such numbers available is obviously a boost. Considering just how poor Newcastle’s attack have been, it wouldn’t exactly take a lot to improve it, so even some initially fleeting appearances may lift the mood somewhat.

During the 3-1 win over Burnley in October (arguably the club’s best performance this season) Saint-Maximin and Wilson linked up well with the pair assisting each other, so perhaps there’s a chance the two could continue working on that partnership in the not-too-distant future.