Newcastle United in Saudi Arabia diary: Allan Saint-Maximin's revealing insight, Eddie Howe's disciplinarian

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Allan Saint-Maximin, we all know, is a very, very good footballer.

But Saint-Maximin’s also a very good talker off the pitch, and he sat down with journalists at Newcastle United’s team hotel in Riyadh’s Olaya district.

Saint-Maximin was relaxed and at ease as guests milled around behind him in the busy hotel lobby.

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It’s been a frustrating season, on a personal level, for Saint-Maximin, who suffered an injury after scoring a stunning equaliser against Wolverhampton Wanderers in late August.

Saint-Maximin returned to fitness just before the Premier League paused for the World Cup.

The 25-year-old spoke at length about his journey at Newcastle – and his hopes for the future.

Saint-Maximin, signed in 2019 from Nice during Steve Bruce’s time as head coach, answered every question thoughtfully, and the respect he has for Eddie Howe, his team-mates and the club’s fans was evident.

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Newcastle United's Allan Saint-Maximin is keen to make up for lost time.Newcastle United's Allan Saint-Maximin is keen to make up for lost time.
Newcastle United's Allan Saint-Maximin is keen to make up for lost time.

The winger’s in a very good place, and he’s keen to make up for lost time when the domestic calendar resumes.

That said, Saint-Maximin – who saw his own World Cup hopes dashed by the injury he suffered at Molineux – is hoping for a France victory in Saturday’s quarter-final against England in Qatar.

That would mean an early return to Tyneside for Kieran Trippier, Callum Wilson and Nick Pope, Newcastle’s England contingent.

Saint-Maximin’s very loyal to his United team-mates – but he’s strongly backing his country in Doha.

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Newcastle United in Saudi Arabia.Newcastle United in Saudi Arabia.
Newcastle United in Saudi Arabia.

Cash or card

Newcastle United held a “supporter engagement event” for fans in Riyadh yesterday.

A mixture of expatriates and Saudis heard from Howe, Amanda Staveley and three members of the squad at the Hyatt Regency hotel.

They all spoke well at the informal event. The players – Jamaal Lascelles, Sean Longstaff and Jacob Murphy – spoke candidly when they were asked about their career “firsts”.

Some of their answers had the audience in stitches, as did first-team coach Simon Weatherstone – who handles the club’s in-house fines – when he spoke on the stage with Howe.

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So what does Weatherstone do when a fined player says he hasn’t got any cash? Easy, Weatherstone produces his very own card machine.

Howe is big on discipline and punctuality, and Weatherstone helps to keep the squad in line.