Former Liverpool ace says Newcastle United's survival hopes rest on duo - and it's not Allan Saint-Maximin
Former Liverpool defender Stephen Warnock believes Newcastle United’s Premier League survival hopes rest on Miguel Almiron and Joe Willock.
Steve Bruce’s side fell further into relegation danger after they were unable to extend their three-point advantage over 18th place Fulham, who closed the gap with a 1-0 win against Sheffield United on Saturday evening.
The Magpies lost 3-1 at Manchester United last night. Allan Saint-Maximin had equalised to cancel out Marcus Rashford’s opener but second-half goals from Dan James and Bruno Fernandes inflicted a 14th defeat of the season on Bruce and co.
Despite Saint-Maximin returning to the scoresheet for the first time since October, Warnock felt the Frenchman struggled at Old Trafford.
And when asked if the 23-year-old was the key to Newcastle beating the drop, Warnock instead singled out Almiron and on-loan Willock.
"He struggled in the game," the retired full-back told Sky Sports’ Football Show.
"It got to about 70 minutes yesterday and Steve Bruce replaced him – whether that was a tactical thing to make sure he’s ready for the Wolves game but he struggled to get into the game, he struggled to have a big effect on it.
"I actually think Newcastle’s hopes this year will be on (Miguel) Almiron and also Joe Willock, who was outstanding yesterday, he’s brought a different dynamic to the midfield and what he’s done to the Newcastle team is he’s brought that extra man into the forward positions and it’s caused problems for opposition defences.
"Almiron was the player that tried to take the fight to Manchester United, tried to make things happen constantly. Saint-Maximin struggled at times but we know he is a danger on his day and can cause players huge, huge problems.”
Bruce substituted Saint-Maximin and Almiron in the closing stages, believing the former is “still not right” after missing 10 consecutive league games between November and January.
“Allan, for me, physically is still not right,” said the United head coach said.
“I think Almiron was totally exhausted with the workrate that he put on. With 10 minutes to go, or whatever it was, I was worried for the pair of them, especially Allan.
"I was worried that, physically, he was holding his hamstrings and his groin. One thing we can’t have is another injury to either of those two.”