By Alex McLeish

14th Jan, 2021 | 4:00pm

Exclusive: Pundit drops Newcastle-Gareth Bale verdict after big update

Losing Allan Saint-Maximin to Coronavirus has been a “killer blow” for Newcastle United in recent weeks, according to Alex McLeish.

The former Rangers and Scotland manager, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, claimed the impact of the winger’s absence is similar to when Tottenham struggled after selling Gareth Bale to Real Madrid back in 2013.

Speaking to NUFC TV, Steve Bruce confirmed the 23-year-old still had a number of tests to undertake before returning to training after being hit hard by the effects of the virus.

The mercurial French attacker has been missing since the 2-0 defeat at home to Chelsea after he picked up a calf injury, while the positive Covid-19 test has set his return date back significantly.

McLeish has admitted that while one player does not make a team, losing someone of Saint-Maximin’s quality and ability is still a bitter pill for any manager to swallow.

“We spoke about (Gareth) Bale, he goes and seven come in and they think seven’s going to make it better than one going but it doesn’t,” McLeish told Football Insider.

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“Losing wee Saint-Maximin has been a killer blow for Newcastle’s kind of positivity. 

“We’re talking about the striker being on his own all the time, Wilson, and all that happens is eventually the ball gets lumped up and he’s supposed to keep it or run in behind but he’s not getting the support.”

Saint-Maximin has played just nine times across all competitions for Newcastle this season, having managed to make 30 appearances last term.

His only goal and assist this campaign came in the 3-1 win over Burnley back in October.

In other news, Football Insider can reveal Newcastle United are in the hunt to sign Huddersfield star.