STEVE BRUCE hailed Allan Saint-Maximin’s dazzling display at St James’ Park last night- and hinted that the French forward could remain in a more central attacking role this season.

Saint-Maximin scored Newcastle’s 44th-minute equaliser as they came from behind to claim a point in a pulsating 1-1 draw with Leeds.

With Raphinha carving out a flurry of first-half chances for the visitors, Saint-Maximin took the fight to the opposition pretty much single-handedly with a series of penetrative dribbles and effective forward bursts.

Callum Wilson’s injury has led to the 24-year-old being shuffled infield, and his performances as a central striker will undoubtedly have given Bruce plenty of cause for thought as he ponders his line-up for the remainder of the campaign.

“I’ve been saying it ever since he came through the door, he’s always going to excite people and get them off their seats,” said the Newcastle boss. “He does things that nobody else can do. Natural ability is something that you don’t coach, and he’s just a wonderfully naturally-gifted footballer.

“Going down the middle suits him because it means he go either way. There were a couple of moments where I thought he could maybe have passed the ball, but I thought his performance was excellent.”

With sections of the home support calling for Bruce’s head in the wake of Raphinha’s early opener, Newcastle’s players could easily have gone under. Instead, they displayed commendable character to dig out a point.

“What pleased me more than anything was the performance and response of the team after a difficult first 20 minutes,” said Bruce. “The attitude of the players, to a man, was spot on. They gave us everything they possibly could.

“The response of the team was excellent, and I think everyone would agree it was a fantastic game of football. It could have gone either way, but I was delighted with the way we came back.”

There were sporadic chants of ‘Bruce out’ throughout the game, with the Magpies manager admitting it was an uncomfortable evening in his technical area.

“I can’t sit here and say it’s not difficult,” he said. “I understand their frustrations, I really do. What can I say about the chants? I can only say that I will continue to do the best I possibly can.”