Craig Hope’s ‘exclusive’ for the Mail claimed his future was ‘in doubt’ after a row over his fitness led to him being ‘dropped’ for last weekend’s visit of Burnley – but these rumours have been rejected by more than just Steve Bruce.
The Athletic have checked out the situation after an angry Bruce confronted Hope on Tuesday night, and those close to the winger say he ‘respected’ the manager’s decision last weekend – accepting he’s only being protected after TWO bad hamstring injuries already this season.
Here’s a snippet from Chris Waugh’s latest piece on Saint-Maximin:
‘Supporters were so alarmed by claims, vehemently denied by Bruce, that the head coach had dropped the 22-year-old for Saturday’s dour stalemate with Burnley and that Saint-Maximin’s Newcastle future may be in doubt.
‘True, the head coach has publicly declared that his £75 million strike-force of Joelinton, Miguel Almiron and Saint-Maximin must improve their end product in the Premier League — they have provided just four goals and four top-flight assists between them this season — but there has not been a breakdown in his relationship with them.
‘When Saint-Maximin plays well, Newcastle play well. It really is that simple. That was precisely why his omission from the starting XI against Burnley caused such a stir.
‘Bruce insisted that Saint-Maximin had indicated “soreness” in his muscle last Thursday and, having watched the forward train at “half-pace” all week, the head coach stressed it was an “easy” decision not to start him for that reason.
‘Sources close to the player suggest to The Athletic that Saint-Maximin did believe he was actually fit enough to start but respected Bruce’s decision to leave him out of the XI given the two hamstring injuries he has already suffered this season.
‘Bruce said suggestions of a “fall-out” were “nonsense” and, although he initially feared Saint-Maximin would be unable to start against West Bromwich Albion, the forward came through training well on Monday and satisfied his head coach that he could play at The Hawthorns.’
So, that’s now Steve Bruce and The Athletic who’ve thrown cold water on Craig Hope’s claims there was a fallout.
That said, it’s not stopped the Mail’s north-east reporter standing his ground, with him insisting his exclusive is ‘100%’ this morning:
He says there is a difference between a ‘bust up’ and a ‘fallout’, which I understand to an extent, but the fact Bruce has insisted there’s been no row with Saint-Maximin whatsoever suggests Hope is attempting to make a mountain out of a molehill.
Time will tell, but he didn’t look like a player who’d just fallen out with Bruce on Tuesday, bagging 2 assists and working hard throughout.