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Football League

Shearer calls on Ashley to back Hughton

Alan Shearer has called on Newcastle owner Mike Ashley to back manager Chris Hughton in the transfer market.

Although most fans wanted Shearer to remain as boss despite failing to keep the Magpies in the Premier League last term, Ashley ignored the Tyneside hero and instead offered Hughton the chance to steady an apparently rudderless St James' Park ship.

Confounding all the critics, who were tipping Newcastle to tumble straight into League One, Hughton has done a superb job.

Having clinched the Championship title to book an instant top flight return, Newcastle's army of supporters are starting to show their optimistic side once more.

But Shearer, speaking in Manchester at the launch of the new Kitbag World Cup store, a special 7,000sq ft department dedicated to the greatest show on earth, which begins in Johannesburg on June 11, feels Hughton has deserved the proper backing.

"I hope the owner backs Chris up financially," said Shearer.

"He deserves the right to manage in the Premier League because he went where not many people wanted to go and has taken them back up.

"He deserves credit for that and deserves the chance to manage in the Premier League."

Shearer is certainly looking forward to talking about his hometown club on TV again, having been forced to get his Newcastle fix in person this season.

"It has been frustrating not to be able to talk about Newcastle but I have seen a lot of their games because so many have been on Sundays and Mondays," he said.

"It has been a slog and at times they have not played particularly good football. But once you are in that league you have to get out as quickly as possible and now they are back where they belong."

As he thumbed his way through the vast array of kits on show, including the new England red away top specially created by Umbro, Shearer's mind drifted ahead to this summer's World Cup, when he accepts the modern-day Three Lions striking hero Wayne Rooney will carry the hopes of a nation.

"Rooney has been awesome. He has had a magnificent season," he said.

"He is in the top three in the world without a doubt.

"A hell of a lot is on his shoulders but he can carry the burden.

"When you have done it for the biggest club in the world for the past 12 months England will not be a problem. In fact he is relishing it.

"The more pressure that is heaped on him, the more he enjoys his football."

::A walk-in branch of kitbag.com, the world's leading online football store will be open for seven weeks at 21 Market St, Manchester, M20 3HR.