Eddie Howe believes Allan Saint-Maximin is returning to his best form at Newcastle United after easing the Frenchman back from a hamstring injury.
The 25-year-old kicked off the 2022-23 campaign in top form after he followed up a man of the match display against Manchester City with a stunning equaliser at Wolverhampton Wanderers a week later.
However, that trip to Molineux in August was the winger’s last Premier League start after he picked up a hamstring injury. He returned before the World Cup break but has had to remain patient to regain match sharpness.
Saint-Maximin has been restricted to substitute appearances in recent weeks but his 25-minute cameo against Southampton in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg last night was hugely encouraging for Howe.
The former France youth international, alongside Alexander Isak, helped Newcastle clinch a 1-0 victory ahead of next week’s deciding leg at a sellout St James’ Park.
“Maxi was excellent tonight, his decision-making on when to dribble and pass was at the highest level”, Howe said. I think we’re seeing Maxi, hopefully, return to his best form.
“I thought the subs tonight, even Jacob (Murphy), although he didn’t have as long as the other two, did very well.
“Alex’s contribution for the goal was exceptional and he could have scored right at the end, so really pleased with him.”
Sources in Italy say Saint-Maximin is attracting interest from Serie A giants AC Milan but Howe has always maintained that the Magpies’ fans’ favourite has a long-term future at St James’ Park.