Football: Hungry Shearer strikes back

Wimbledon 1 Newcastle United 1
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The Independent Online
THE ENGLAND captain Alan Shearer proved his well-being in front of goal with another Premiership strike to put Kevin Keegan and company in good heart for this week's friendly international against Hungary.

Shearer's critics have claimed last season's nightmare ankle injury had ruined his career - but his latest goal in the Magpies' draw with Wimbledon at Selhurst Park made it five in four games.

The Newcastle assistant manager, Steve Clarke, took the opportunity to criticise those who have doubted Shearer. "Alan's record speaks for itself," Clarke said. "Goalscorers never lose their hunger because that is what their game is all about. You just need to look at his reaction every time he scores to know that he will always have that desire."

But the Magpies have rarely had the chance to play their pounds 15m man in a first-choice strike partnership this season.

Ruud Gullit envisaged Duncan Ferguson would be the perfect man to join Shearer, but the former Scottish international has languished for much of the season on the treatment table with a groin injury.

Former Everton striker Ferguson will return in time for the FA Cup final against Manchester United. "There have been no complications with Duncan's injury, and I think we'll see him play before the final," said Clarke.

That will be welcome news to the Newcastle faithful, who, against the Dons, again had to rely on Shearer's cutting edge while fellow marksman Andreas Andersson fired blanks.

There were encouraging performances from Dietmar Hamann and Nolberto Solano, whose midfield creativity provided the front line with constant ammunition. It was the German international's inch-perfect cross that supplied Shearer with his 20th goal of the season after just 18 minutes.

But the biggest cheer of the day was reserved for John Hartson, who scored his first goal in 11 appearances since his pounds 7.5m switch across London from West Ham.

Hartson's goal drought was beginning to draw some derision from the Wimbledon support, but his latest performance showed them what they have been missing.

Goals: Shearer (18) 1-0; Hartson (24) 1-1.

Wimbledon: Sullivan; Cunningham, Blackwell, Thatcher, Hughes, Earle, Gayle, Euell, Jupp, Cort, Hartson (Kimble, 75). Substitutes not used: Heald, Leaburn, Kennedy, Ainsworth.

Newcastle: Given; Domi, Shearer, Maric, Speed, Hamann, Solano, Beharall, Dabizas, Griffin, Andersson. Substitutes not used: Barton, Harper, Hughes, Brady, McClen.

Referee: P Jones (Loughborough).

Bookings; Wimbledon Thatcher, Earle, Hughes.

Man of the match: Shearer.

Attendance; 21,172.

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