Saint-Maximin missed two consecutive games at West Ham United and Brentford due to a calf problem sustained in the recent win over Aston Villa.
Whilst the Magpies twice travelled to London in the space of a week, the 24-year-old returned to France to undergo specialised treatment.
He arrived back on Tyneside on Tuesday but trained just once last week, which was the Friday morning before the Brighton victory.
With United unbeaten in Saint-Maximin’s absence, Howe resisted the temptation to immediately throw him back into the starting XI.
When asked how the winger reacted to being named on the bench, Howe said: “His attitude was fine. We have built up a good relationship in a short period of time.
“He understood he only had one training session and the team has performed well in his absence.
“He came on, did very well and made a difference for us.”
Saint-Maximin was introduced on 64 minutes in place of Jacob Murphy, who started both the games that the former Nice man missed.
Meanwhile, Saint-Maximin’s absence has afforded time for Howe to play Ryan Fraser on the left wing - the Scot’s favoured position.
Fraser has certainly stepped up with two assists and one goal against Brentford and Brighton.
Howe said: “Ryan, I have said many times, is a goal-creator. And it is great to see him do that and be a goalscorer for us.
“We need goals from every area of the team - last week it was the No.8s, this week it was a centre-half and a wideman.
“That is so important, when you believe you have goals in every area of your team.
“Ryan contributed, first and foremost, contributed out of possession but it was his two decisive moments that swung it in our favour.”