Eddie Howe is sure that Allan Saint-Maximin has a “long-term future” at Newcastle United, despite reports linking the winger with Aston Villa.

Newcastle face Wolves on Friday, aiming to get back on track after three successive Premier League defeats, including a 5-1 reverse at Tottenham last time out.

Saint-Maximin’s future was the talk of Howe’s pre-match news conference, however. The attacker joined Newcastle from Nice in 2019 and swiftly became a fan favourite on Tyneside.

He has scored five league goals this season and is reportedly of interest for Steven Gerrard’s Villa, but Howe disregarded those rumours.

“I’ve got a great relationship with Maxi. I’ve really enjoyed working with him. And, for me, we need, if we look between now and the end of the season, Maxi at his very best levels,” said Howe.

“He could potentially be the difference between us staying in the league. He’s an incredible talent, and, yes, of course he has a long-term future at the club.”

Bruno Lage, meanwhile, also had to field questions over a star player. Ruben Neves is reportedly of interest to several other clubs, including Manchester United, but Wolves’ boss has put a high price tag on the influential midfielder.

“I don’t know if it’s Man United or other teams, what I know is we have a special player here with us,” Lage said.

“What he is doing this season is very good. When you have that player, the best thing to do is improve his salary and years of contract.

“But who knows, when you have a top player like him in that specific position, that can defend and attack, and is a top professional and a great man, the big teams are there with £100million to buy these kinds of players.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Newcastle United – Allan Saint-Maximin

Saint-Maximin may be Newcastle’s attacking talisman but he was poor against Spurs. He had just one shot and failed to create a chance, despite playing the entire match. He will be eager to put that right on Friday.

Wolves – Jonny

Jonny has scored a goal in each of his last two Premier League appearances for Wolves, only one fewer than he netted in his first 79 matches for the club (three), although one of those goals came away at Newcastle in October 2019. He is looking to become only the fifth Wolves player to score in three Premier League appearances in a row, and first since Raul Jimenez in November 2019.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– After a nine-match Premier League unbeaten run between December and March, Newcastle have lost each of their last three in the competition. They haven’t lost four in a row since a run of five in January 2021.

– Wolves have won eight away Premier League games in 2021-22, their most ever in a single Premier League season and their most in a top-flight season since 1979-80 (10 wins), when they finished sixth.

– Nine of the 13 Premier League meetings between Newcastle and Wolves have been drawn (69 per cent), the highest percentage of games to finish level of all fixtures to have been played more than 10 times in the competition.

– Wolves are looking to complete their first league double over Newcastle since the 1991-92 second tier campaign, while they last beat the Magpies home and away in a top-flight campaign in 1953-54.

– Both teams have scored in all 13 Premier League meetings between Newcastle and Wolves, making it the most played fixture in the competition’s history to see neither side keep a clean sheet.