Sam Allardyce believes Andy Carroll could become a fixture for both Newcastle and England – and should be given a chance by the national manager, Fabio Capello, against France next week. Carroll played under Allardyce during the Blackburn manager's short time in charge of the Magpies and has thrust himself to the verge of England selection with some powerful performances.
Allardyce, who will return to St James' Park for the first time as a manager tonight, has also warned that if Carroll does get the call by Capello he must not let it go to his head.
"I had Andy as a young man at Newcastle when I was there, and you could see the raw talent," Allardyce said yesterday. "They love a No 9 there and it's a big ask to live up to the expectation, but he's brave, he's fearless and he has exceptionally good ability, particularly aerially – as we saw against Arsenal. Few players could score goals of that type today and that's why he's such an exciting player. He's the sort of centre-forward that Fabio Capello likes – a big man up front.
"In the beginning it was Emile Heskey and we all know the one thing Emile couldn't give England was goals. He could make a lot of goals and could create opportunities but you had to rely on other players scoring. Then Peter Crouch has been tried, and Andy Carroll is emerging and on the back of a very good start to the Premier League – and six goals – he deserves to be included in a friendly international. Fabio should let the lad have a little taste of what it's like at that level."
Allardyce warned that Carroll should take care not to follow the path of Michael Ricketts, who was capped by Sven Goran Eriksson and then his career went downhill from there. "I can cast my mind back to Michael Ricketts getting a chance when I was at Bolton," Allardyce said. "He played in Holland for England for half a game and let that go to his head and his career almost evaporated from that day on. So it can be a very dangerous thing as well as a very, very good thing and Andy and everybody around him has to manage that if he gets the call that he deserves."
Allardyce insisted he was unconcerned about the reception he will receive from the Newcastle fans. "It will be my first trip back to St James' Park as a manager and I don't know whether I'll get a good or bad reception. It's three years ago and a long time since it happened and, right or wrong, what happened is history. They are the in-form team in the league, three wins on the trot has boosted their confidence, so we will need to be at our very best."
Blackburn have a number of injury problems, with Benjani the latest to join the list of absentees. The Zimbabwe striker suffered a hamstring injury against Wigan at the weekend and joins Steven Nzonzi, Vince Grella and Keith Andrews on the sidelines.
Allardyce's counterpart Chris Hughton is more than happy to have Newcastle cast in the role of the Premier League's latest surprise package. The Magpies climbed to fifth in the table as a result of their shock 1-0 win at Arsenal on Sunday. With fellow promoted sides West Bromwich and Blackpool also making a fist of life in the top flight, Hughton admits the newcomers have raised a few eyebrows, although he is well aware that the likes of Hull and Burnley have done much the same in the recent past, but been unable to sustain their early-season form.
Asked whether Newcastle have surprised a few people, he said: "Yes – and that would probably be the same for all three teams who got promotion. It is tough when you come into this division having been out of it and the expectations on all three teams are that you will work your way into the division and learn about the division and, hopefully, get stronger as it goes on.
"That's very much how the division is. There are some real surprise results – us going to the Emirates would be a surprise result, West Brom going there certainly would be and Blackpool, the results they have got."Reuse content