Bruce confirms Saint-Maximin set to miss Burnley trip
Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce has confirmed a number of his charges will miss Saturday’s trip to Burnley, with winger Allan Saint-Maximin heading the list of players ruled out through injury.
The 22-year-old pulled up during the closing stages of the Magpies’ 2-1 win over Southampton at St. James’ Park on Sunday.
And United will now head to Turf Moor this weekend (3pm kick-off) without a handful of their key men, as they look to move themselves into the top half of the Premier League table ahead of the hectic Christmas period.
“We’ve got a few out,” confirmed Bruce. “Certainly (Ciaran) Clark, (Matt) Ritchie, (Jamaal) Lascelles, Saint-Maximin, Ki are all struggling – well, they’re out – and we’ve got a couple of question marks over (Miguel) Almirón and (Jonjo) Shelvey, so we’ll see how they are today.”
Head coach Bruce admitted that the absence of Saint-Maximin, who has come to the fore in recent weeks as Newcastle’s form improved, is a blow to his side, who currently lie just two points adrift of fifth place.
“I think you just have to look at the statistics and the impact he’s made on the team,” he said. “The way we set up, he gives you that threat which of course is vitally important to us with the way we play. It’s part and parcel of it – we have to adapt to it we have to try and find a different way, but of course, he’s been a bit of a talisman over the last few weeks.
“He’s explosive, and when you run the way he does you’re always a bit susceptible I suppose. But the way he plays has lifted everybody off their seats, and if you look at the results we’ve had since he’s been in the team, the way we’ve played, he’s been crucial to it. But it is what it is – we can’t just say ‘oh, Allan’s out’ – we’ve got to roll up our sleeves a little bit and find another way.”
The Frenchman’s injury could present an opening for the likes of Christian Atsu, who began the season in impressive fashion, and Bruce says it’s up to those available to find a way to ‘adapt’ without Saint-Maximin.
“He’s a good player, he’s the one that I said is going to get people off their seats, and he has. As soon as he gets it, he does that little bit of magic and he can take you up the pitch very, very quickly,” he said.
“We have to find a way to adapt without him, and it’s someone else’s opportunity.”
Bruce – who is also hoping wing-back Jetro Willems will be passed fit for the trip to Lancashire – has been impressed with the way in which his side recovered from their 2-0 defeat at Aston Villa last month, with their subsequent draw and two-victories representing a good return from what looked to be a tricky run of fixtures.
“I’ve been delighted with the response of the players – their attitude to work has been there for everyone to see,” he said. “It hasn’t been the prettiest, it’s fair to say, but we look difficult to beat and difficult to play against, which is first and foremost for us at this particular moment.
“We’ve given ourselves a nice platform going into what I’ve said is a crucial month. We’ve given ourselves a nice start – it was a good week last week. It’s a new dawn, another week is upon us, and we’ll see how we go.”