With Allan Saint-Maximin out for some time, Newcastle have to find a way to fill the massive void left by the marauding Frenchman. Since he came back from his first hamstring injury in early October, Newcastle have been a much better side while offering so much more going forward.
Without a natural replacement in the squad, Steve Bruce will have to find other ways to get the attack going. At Burnley last weekend, we saw what the future could hold for us without Allan in the team. It was definitely grim, to say the least.
Newcastle suffered without Allan’s presence as an outlet and seemed resigned to just hoofing the ball up the pitch far too often. While Andy Carroll won his share of aerial duels, he had little impact in the final third.
One option that is looking like it may be necessary is bringing Florian Lejeune in for Paul Dummett. That would give the team two ball-playing defenders with him and Fabian Schar.
Saint-Maximin and Lejeune– both have struggled with injuries
Lejeune came into the matchday squad this past weekend. While it was out of necessity due to the absences of Ciaran Clark and Jamaal Lascelles, it was another step in the Frenchman’s pending return to the pitch.
A few weeks ago, Steve Bruce revealed a conversation he had with Lejeune, where he said he would bring him back when he felt the time was right. That time may be now.
The Athletic’s Chris Waugh says that Bruce is considering doing just that. In his article about how Newcastle can cope without Allan Saint-Maximin, he makes the following claim:
Defensively, Newcastle remain solid but, while Bruce is unlikely to abandon his back three, he is believed to be considering trying to accommodate two ball-players in Fabian Schar and Florian Lejeune into his back line.
We also think that Bruce would hesitate to revert to a flat back four at this point. It was a disaster against Leicester City, and our wing-backs seem to operate better further up the pitch.
Chris Waugh is not the only one suggesting that the time is right for Lejeune’s return. The Chronicle’s Mark Douglas also thinks that bringing Lejeune in on Saturday is a distinct possibility. Douglas writes in the Chronicle’s Q&A:
United have been careful with Florian Lejeune but there’s a real argument for the defender to return on Saturday. If not then, when?
We think it is time to get Florian back on the pitch. It’s been well over 8 months since he suffered his knee injury in early April. He’s played 2 games for the reserves and has been involved in training for months.
While Steve Bruce will have to do more than just insert Lejeune to account for the loss of Saint-Maximin, the French defender’s return could help ease the loss of our talismanic winger.
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