Steve Bruce has been speaking about Allan Saint Maximin’s fitness ‘conundrum’, revealing why he’s unable to put a time frame on his return.
The Frenchman limped off mid way through the first half against Spurs, and the initial diagnosis was that he would miss ‘3-5 weeks’ with a grade one hamstring strain.
When asked for an update this week, Bruce had this to say.
“Saint-Maximin now is doing his rehabilitation work,”
“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”.
This is a little misleading and confusing from Bruce I must say.
Saint Maximin started, and scored in pre season games for Nice against Burnley and PSV, also coming off the bench for them against Cardiff in July – so it’s not like he had no pre-season.
Bruce then suggested he’s not been able to reach the fitness level ‘he requires’ since arriving – a comment which makes his risky start at Spurs all the more baffling:
“Because of the knock-backs he’s had and the injuries, we haven’t been able to get him up to speed to the level I think he requires.”
Not exactly an encouraging update.
Bruce took some stick for rushing him back to early, which I stated in a previous article felt harsh. If the medical staff cleared him to train – which he did for two days prior to the game – and the player himself feels it’s ok, the blame can’t be put on Bruce. That said, if Bruce is now saying his fitness levels were haven’t been where they need to be since he arrived, suggesting he really wasn’t in a position to start at Spurs?
While Christian Atsu’s form (and long may it continue) has certainly softened the blow, we’re all hoping that Saint Maximin can get fit soon and start getting some bums off seats.
His cameo at St James against St Etienne was certainly exciting, but he’s also been impressing massively off the pitch. His involvement with the club’s food bank initiative has been brilliant, and his banter with fans on Twitter is good fun and paints him as a real character who the Toon Army have already fallen in love with.
Hopefully he can return soon with such a crucial and gruelling schedule on the horizon. The prospect of him, Almiron and Joelinton fully fit as a front three is still an exciting one.