Allan Saint-Maximin has ‘not been able to do anything for six weeks’ after previously contracting COVID-19 and Steve Bruce admits it will be a ‘big challenge’ to get Newcastle United’s talisman back.
Saint-Maximin spent time with his family back in his homeland over the festive period and the 23-year-old has since returned to the UK although, when it comes to his quarantine period, the club are still determining when he flew back.
Bruce is awaiting the go-ahead from club doctor Paul Catterson for Saint-Maximin to return to light training but, naturally, it’s going to take time for the Newcastle forward to get up to speed again.
“Look, on a personal level, I’ve seen how dangerous it is and how quickly it ripped through here.” Bruce told reporters on Zoom.
“Despite the protocols that we put in place and adhered to, it only takes one person to infect. How quickly it transmitted was scary. We went from two to 16 and then 18 and the following week there were even more.
“I think the doctor shutting us down so quickly made a huge difference, and it’s affected everyone now. Obviously, the new strain of the virus makes it more catchable if you like.
“I’ve seen it firsthand and we’re still suffering weeks later. Arguably, our best player has been laid low for six weeks and not been able to do anything. To try and get him back is a big challenge.
“Financially, it’s right and I know it it gives a lot of people a lot of enjoyment but, for me, morally it’s wrong.”
Jamaal Lascelles also struggled with the after-effects of COVID-19 and the Newcastle captain was only able to return to full training this week.
Isaac Hayden, Federico Fernandez, Fabian Schar and Emil Krafth previously tested positive for coronavirus following an outbreak at the club’s training ground but the quartet have all managed to play in recent weeks.
Members of Bruce’s staff also contracted the virus and while the Newcastle head coach understands that ‘people want to see a game of football in lockdown’, the 60-year-old stressed ‘we’re just as vulnerable to catch this as everyone else’
“What’s it going to take?” he added. “I’ve seen two of my staff been very sick. One nearly had to go into hospital. If that’s not serious enough, what will be? I’m sorry.
“Look, as I’ve said it many times, how lucky are we? The Premier League have put in unbelievable protocols. There’s even more today. A little example is we have to take three different coaches to get to games.
“When I see Man City and Aston Villa suffering and all the clubs in the lower divisions…at the end of the day, we are socialising. We come in to an environment and we go to work. Yes, we do follow all the protocols the best we can but it’s still very difficult to contain.”