Allan has the world at his feet, says Bruce ahead of Red Devils visit
As his side prepare for the visit of Manchester United on Saturday night, Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce says he’s delighted that influential forward Allan Saint-Maximin has committed his future to the club – and believes the Frenchman has “the world at his feet”.
Saint-Maximin penned a fresh six-year deal at St. James’ Park this week after an outstanding start to his time on Tyneside, and could again line up for the Magpies when they face the Red Devils under the lights this weekend (8pm kick-off).
And Bruce – who confirmed the flying winger was fit for the game against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men – believes the best is yet to come from the former Nice man.
“We’re delighted the lad’s committed his future to us,” he said. “We’ve all seen what an impact he’s had certainly in the 12 months he’s been here – he’s been excellent, so long may that continue.
“I still think his best years are ahead of him – he’s only 23 and he’s still learning his trade a bit, but we’re delighted he’s committed his future to the club.
“We’ve all seen him play for the last 12 months, and when you see him last week (against Burnley), with the goal he scored and the one he set up, there’s arguably only him on the pitch who could do those sort of things.
“There’s no disputing his natural ability – of course, he’s got to be a bit more consistent, and he’s got to learn and be a bit more disciplined at times. However, he’s got the world at his feet.
“As I said, he’s only 23 years old so he’s got hopefully his best years ahead of him and, of course, when he matures we all hope he can turn into the player we can all see and that is week-in and week-out. He’s got everything in front of him if he keeps learning and wants to do the right thing.”
Bruce, who won nine major honours during his playing days at Old Trafford, knows his old side will still be hurting following their 6-1 home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur just prior to the international break.
And he has warned his side to be wary of a potential backlash as the visitors bid to lift themselves up from 16th place in the Premier League table.
“They’ll be deeply upset and disappointed, that’s for sure. They’ll definitely want to erase that memory of last week, that’s for sure,” he said. “Let’s not forget they’ve got some really, really top players in their team, so you always fear a backlash.
“Of course, they’ve been beaten in the past and it’s how they respond and what makes them the big club and great club is moments they’re in at the minute, when they come out and show what they are.
“I’m expecting a really, really difficult game. They’ll be wounded and disappointed about what happened a couple of weeks ago and make no mistake, they’ve got some top, top players in the team. We’ll have to play well if we’re going to get something, that’s for sure.”
There was some further good news for United during the recent break as Ryan Fraser excelled for Scotland, netting his second international goal and continuing to build up his match fitness, while Jamal Lewis – who withdrew from Northern Ireland’s game against Norway in midweek – is also now fit.
And Bruce confirmed that none of his charges had returned from international duty with any knocks or concerns ahead of this weekend’s return to league action.
“The one thing that we did need with Ryan, when I had a conversation with Scotland, was just to be careful with him because he hasn’t played since last March and not done a lot of training either,” explained Bruce. “It’s OK just running on a treadmill and running in straight lines but actually physically working and playing football (is different), so it’s done him the world of good – and of course for him to get the winner and play well the way he has done is great news for us and for him.
“They’re all OK. The doctor’s been in touch straight after the game. Everybody has returned OK. We all knew Jamal Lewis was returning earlier – that was already pre-agreed – and he’s fine as well, so we’re all good on that front.”
Meanwhile, Bruce also responded to suggestions that goalkeeper Martin Dúbravka had suffered a setback in his comeback from injury.
“It’s been reported that there’s been a setback with him. We see it more in that we thought he might be a bit more advanced than he is at the minute, and he’s not,” he said.
“We never really put a timescale on somebody who’s had an operation, but it’s fair to say it’s slower in his recovery than we would have liked. We’d like him to be a bit more advanced, but he isn’t, so we’ll just have to let nature take its course.”