NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe has explained why Newcastle United star man Allan Saint-Maximin missed the Magpies’ 1-1 draw at West Ham.
The Frenchman was a surprise omission from the United team sheet before the game at the London Stadium.
And Howe has explained why he was unable to call on the services of the five-goal forward.
“Maxi got a kick on his calf against Aston Villa, I think you saw him limping towards the end of the game,” said the head coach. “He didn’t train this week. We hoped he’d be fit but obviously he didn’t make the game.
“Hopefully, nothing too serious with Maxi but it was enough to keep him out today.”
Saint-Maximin’s partner-in-crime Joe Willock got the Magpies’ only goal of the game in east London, his first of the campaign after a 21-game drought.
Willock was United’s only signing of the summer after an eight-goal loan spell at the end of last season.
It’s fair to say that he has failed to hit those heights this season, but has shown a real return to form in United’s last four games.
“Joe used his athleticism, gave us legs. It was great to see him score,” said Howe. “I think he has been improving every week since I have been here.
“I think that was probably his best performance.”
The result saw United, for a brief few hours, stretch five points clear of the relegation zone. However, a win for Burnley against Brighton — only their second of the campaign — closed the gap to third bottom back to four points.
While it wasn’t three much-needed points, Howe was satisfied with a point at the Champions League-chasing Hammers.
“It was a really good response from the players,” he said about his side’s character after falling behind.
“We started the game positively and created a number of chances. I was really pleased with the resilience shown by the players. The confidence levels have grown.
“I’m satisfied with the point, but frustrated it maybe wasn’t more,” Howe said. “The way we started the game was excellent. The only disappointment for me was that we only got one goal — there was more in it for us.”
“Although we dominated they still had a threat in the game. That’s what West Ham can do to you. We’re disappointed that the free-kick was poorly defended from our perspective.
“That’s a frustration, but the character and response was there. With the balls we put into the box, it should have been more.”