Bellamy prepared to play anywhere in effort to help Souness

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The Independent Online

The Newcastle United striker Craig Bellamy will play wherever he is asked to as his new manager, Graeme Souness, attempts to accommodate his players.

The Newcastle United striker Craig Bellamy will play wherever he is asked to as his new manager, Graeme Souness, attempts to accommodate his players.

Souness chose for the first time to pair his captain, Alan Shearer, and the Dutchman Patrick Kluivert in attack at Southampton on Sunday and that meant the Welshman lining up out of position on the right side of midfield as his team ended their 32-year winless League run on the South Coast with a 2-1 victory.

The 25-year-old admits that the wide position infamously shunned by his team-mate Kieron Dyer in a game at Middlesbrough earlier this season is not his favourite, but he is happy to do as he is asked by his manager.

"The manager knows my best position and so do I, and it's not in midfield," he said. "But if he wants me to play out wide and do a job, I have to try to do it to the best of my ability, and that's what I did on Sunday.

"To tell the truth, I don't think I'm that good out there and I'm better through the middle up front, but we got the three points and that's all that matters."

Bellamy has been in excellent form since the season got under way, in stark contrast to some of his team-mates, but his willingness to sacrifice himself for the overall cause is an indication of his growing maturity.

His previous misdemeanours have left him high on the list of those players tipped to have an early audience with Souness, but the new manager can have few complaints about one of his most determined players.

Bellamy will hope for a return to his favoured position when West Bromwich Albion head for St James' Park on Saturday, although he will enjoy the luxury of a midweek without a game after finding the going tough at the St Mary's Stadium in his new role.

"I'm not a midfield player," he said. "I'm used to making 20-yard runs through the middle, but I had to change my game completely on Sunday.

"I was having to do longer runs and also get back instead of working the channels. It's a massive change for me as a player and I was more tired at Southampton than I usually am after a game.

"But I feel absolutely great at the moment and everything is geared up for Saturday's game with West Brom."

If Souness is still getting to know Bellamy, his coach, Dean Saunders, who knows a thing or two about playing up front at the highest level, needs little introduction.

The two have played together for Wales in the past, and Saunders has been impressed with the former Norwich and Coventry striker's progression since then.

"I know Craig and what I see in him is someone who wants to learn all the time," Saunders said. "He works hard in training and you can see on the pitch that work has paid off.

"He's improved no end, and you can see he's developed as he's got older. The good thing about him is you have to drag him off the training pitch."

Bellamy, Shearer, Kluivert and Shola Ameobi have all been handed starts under Souness, and the competition for places is, Saunders believes, very healthy.

"When I look at strikers, I see [Ruud] van Nistelrooy, who scores 30 a season, and someone like [Thierry] Henry, who will get you 20 but create another 10 for players around him," he said.

"The strikers here know they have to hunt in pairs, and of the four main strikers we have at our disposal, I think there are some good combinations in there which will get us goals."

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