Eddie Howe has explained his decision to leave Chris Wood out of his Newcastle United starting XI against Liverpool.
The New Zealand international, having started his opening 14 games after joining from Burnley in January, has been named as a substitute in the last two matches.
Wood was an unused sub during the 3-0 win at Norwich City and was introduced for the remaining 25 minutes as United trailed the Reds 1-0.
Allan Saint-Maximin, a winger by trade, started as the central striker, with Joelinton and Miguel Almiron either side of the Frenchman.
Howe explains Wood decision
Asked by Wood didn’t start, Howe explained: “Various different things.
“When you play the top teams, you won’t necessarily have the lion’s share of possession.
“We were looking to strengthen our defensive performance down the sides of the pitch and also try to get Maxi to counter attack in more of a central area.
“It didn’t necessarily work from a team perspective. Defensively, on the whole, we performed OK.
“They were always going to have chances in the game but I don’t think, although they had quite a few shots at goal, they didn’t have any glaring chances.”
Howe on Saint-Maximin’s display
Saint-Maximin struggled to make his mark on the game up against Virgil Van Dijk and Joel Matip. Full-backs Andy Robertson and Joe Gomez also closely watched the 25-year-old.
“I’d never comment on any individuals,” Howe said when questioned about Saint-Maximin’s below-par display. “I thought as an attacking force today, we probably weren’t at our best - Allan’s obviously focal to that. But then again, we found it difficult to get the ball to him in dangerous areas.
“Maxi thrives on early balls to him and trying to get at the full-back and centre-backs in one-v-one duels. I felt we could never isolate them (Liverpool) due to the fact you have to compliment them, they do it week-in, week-out.
“Maxi worked hard and gave his best for the team but from an attacking force, we weren’t quite right.”