Newcastle strikers must step up says Alan Pardew
Alan Pardew challenged his remaining fit forwards to fill the void left by Andy Carroll and Shola Ameobi against Arsenal on Saturday after admitting they failed to do so at Fulham.
The Magpies' striker misery deepened last night when Ameobi suffered a suspected fractured cheekbone in just the 10th minute of their 1-0 defeat at Craven Cottage and less than 48 hours since the club were forced to sell Carroll.
Manager Pardew admitted Leon Best and substitutes Nile Ranger and Peter Lovenkrands did not step up to the plate following Ameobi's 13th-minute withdrawal.
"I will be honest about the strikers," he said.
"They weren't as good as they have been. Young Nile has got a lot to learn and Leon Best, unfortunately for Leon, didn't have a good night.
"Maybe there was a little added pressure on them - they're going to have to deal with that."
With Ameobi set to be sidelined for up to six weeks if Pardew's worst fears are confirmed, the Newcastle boss acknowledged Best and Ranger face a steep learning curve.
He added: "But Leon is not a young player. He's got good experience. This is not a player who is new to the game. Nile Ranger for sure is, but Leon Best isn't.
"Bestie is probably now the one who has got to come to the fore.
"Then we have Lovenkrands, who can certainly affect the first team in a number of ways.
"Those are the three we have and we have to get the best out of them."
Pardew, who refused to blame the Carroll saga for last night's defeat, reckons his side should relish facing title-chasing Arsenal, despite their miserable week.
"I think you should enjoy when you come up against the big guns," he said.
"We're a big club, so are Arsenal, and it'll be a big occasion.
"I've just got to hope that we produce."
Newcastle will be boosted by the return from suspension of midfielder Cheick Tiote, who Pardew described as "a big, big player for us".
Damien Duff twisted the knife into Newcastle last night by netting the winner against his former club.
However, he was almost upstaged by a thrilling debut cameo by on-loan Chelsea winger Gael Kakuta.
Manager Mark Hughes said: "As soon as he came into the building, you could see the qualities that he has.
"He has fantastic feet and is very aware of the players around him.
"At the right time, in the right games, against the right opposition, he'll have a real impact."
Yesterday's win was Fulham's fifth in succession at home and Hughes believes teams are now frightened of coming to Craven Cottage.
"We want them to be fearful in anticipation, to be perfectly honest," he said.
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