Alan Pardew issues challenge to Newcastle strikers
Alan Pardew has challenged strikers Shola Ameobi and Leon Best to prove Newcastle can cope without star man Andy Carroll.
The 22-year-old England international has missed the last four games with a thigh injury, and is also expected to sit out the next three weeks with the damage showing few signs of healing quickly.
Carroll's 11 goals to date this season have made him one of the club's stand-out players in the bid to retain their Barclays Premier League status, and his loss might have proved hugely significant.
However, Ameobi's strike at Wigan and Best's hat-trick against West Ham three days later each secured three precious points in his absence, and it was Ameobi who created the goal which took the Magpies to within seconds of derby victory at Sunderland last weekend.
With Peter Lovenkrands and Nile Ranger providing support, Pardew is hopeful that he has enough firepower to cope.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow's tough home Barclays Premier League clash with fifth-placed Tottenham, the manager said: "Especially with Leon, he has produced in the two Premier League games.
"The challenge is in front of him to produce that level.
"Shola, as we know, can play for this club. He has shown that over many years.
"They have the shirts at the moment and if they produce the same work-rate they did at Sunderland, they have every chance of keeping them."
Carroll will not be the only absentee as Newcastle attempt to halt a free-rolling Spurs bandwagon which has seen the Londoners put together a run of 14 games in all competitions with just one defeat since they lost 4-2 at Bolton on November 6.
Key midfielder Cheik Tiote serves the second leg of a three-match ban, while Alan Smith is likely to miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury and Steven Taylor and Dan Gosling have joined Hatem Ben Arfa and Ryan Taylor on the casualty list.
In the circumstances, Pardew is desperate to persuade owner Mike Ashley to loosen the purse strings and allow him to bring in reinforcements - short-term moves for Stephen Ireland and Shaun Wright-Phillips have been mooted after the club's interest in the likes of Sebastian Larsson and Jay Bothroyd came to nothing.
But in the meantime, the Magpies will attempt to gain revenge for their 2-0 defeat at White Hart Lane on December 28 with what they already have.
Pardew's spending power, or lack of it, is in stark contrast to that afforded to opposite number Harry Redknapp to enable him to rebuild his squad since he launched what was initially a rescue mission in October 2008.
He said: "They are title challengers, you can't get away from that.
"They have some outstanding players, as they proved against Manchester United last week.
"Harry's been fortunate that he's had good finance to strengthen the team, and he very rarely makes mistakes in the transfer market, and that's why they've got so many options.
Second-half goals from Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale did the damage in the reverse fixture last month in what was just Pardew's third game in charge, but the Magpies boss believes his side did not cause enough problems for their opponents, something he intends to remedy tomorrow.
He said: "They are a very forward-thinking team that wants to attack you. But when we played them last time, offensively we were really poor.
"Hopefully on Saturday, we are going to give Spurs' back four a bigger test and see if that stands up.
"On occasion it hasn't, so we have got to put them under pressure and try to force some errors."
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