Newcastle United Q&A: Injury latest and Allan Saint-Maximin's performances

Following a hectic few weeks at Newcastle, we answer some key questions surrounding the club at the moment.

Here, our Shields Gazette writers Miles Starforth and Joe Buck reflect on back-to-back defeats and a look ahead to their upcoming warm weather training camp in Dubai:

Where do you feel Newcastle now sit in the relegation picture?

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MS: “Newcastle, certainly, aren’t in a comfortable position - yet. They’re still nine points short of the traditional 40-point safety mark, but they have nine games to go, and a point a game is more than achievable. The sooner the team gets those points, the better.”

Allan Saint-Maximin of Newcastle United (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

JB: “They’re not totally out of danger yet, but I think they’ve done enough to secure safety. Two late defeats will hurt the squad but we’ve seen that they’re made of tough stuff under Howe and their upcoming break will do them good.”

How will the trip to Dubai help the squad?

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MS: “Newcastle have had four games in 13 days, and the break, and warm weather training, should do them good ahead of a final push for Premier League survival. A training game, however, would be idea to top of the team’s fitness and sharpness ahead of their return to action early next month.”

JB: “When they returned from Saudi Arabia in January the squad seemed rejuvenated and Howe even admits that they want to replicate the successes of that break. Even if it just allows some of the team to recover after a hectic few weeks, they should come back better for having a break.”

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Callum Wilson of Newcastle United reacts with an injury during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Manchester United at St James' Park (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Could we see some of the longer-term injury absentees make their return to the first-team soon?

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MS: “Callum Wilson, certainly, is getting closer, and a return next month is a possibility as he’s starting to run outside. As for Kieran Trippier, his return is harder to predict, though Howe remains hopeful he’ll play some part before the end of the season.”

JB: “Jonjo Shelvey’s absence has hit the side hard in these last few games as he has proven to be a key player for Howe - the break between games will certainly do him wonders.”

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What are your thoughts on Allan Saint-Maximin’s recent performances?

MS: “Saint-Maximin has hardly trained since recovering from the calf problem he suffered against Aston Villa last month, and, I think, that’s the issue. Saint-Maximin’s not yet fully fit, and, as such, he’s been starting games on the bench. The break should set him up for a run in the team, as United need him back to his best.”

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JB: “Slight injury problems mean that Saint-Maximin just hasn’t been able to influence games recently and because of that, the side seem to be carrying him when he plays – hopefully a break will be beneficial.”

What are the main positions that you think Newcastle need to strengthen in the summer?

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MS: “I think Howe will want to improve his squad, where possible, in all areas should the club stay up. I think we’ll see comings and goings in most departments. We could see as many as four or five departures, and a similar number of arrivals.”

JB: "I think another winger to take the burden off Ryan Fraser and Saint-Maximin and a striker should be on the list. They should also snap-up Matt Targett as soon as they can.”

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