Souness delight as Dyer proves perfect partner for Shearer

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The Independent Football

Graeme Souness has admitted that he may consider handing Kieron Dyer a striking role again after watching him help eliminate Olympiakos from the Uefa Cup on Wednesday.

The England midfielder was asked to partner Alan Shearer in attack after Patrick Kluivert and Shola Ameobi were ruled out through injury. He turned in an excellent individual display as the Magpies easily disposed of a side who only just missed out on the last 16 of the Champions' League.

Dyer grabbed the opening goal before two from Shearer and a Lee Bowyer strike sealed a 4-0 win and a 7-1 aggregate scoreline. Dyer's performance capped a remarkable turn-around for a player who looked to have no future at St James' Park just a few months ago. Understandably, it left Souness delighted.

"Kieron was outstanding," he said. "That is a position he enjoys playing in - if you ask him, I think that is his favourite position and he was excellent there. He complemented Alan. To have that much movement in and around Alan, I think they both enjoyed it.

"He has given me food for thought. Kieron has been excellent in the six months I have been at the club and last night he has shown me something else that I had been told about but had not seen with my own eyes, and he was excellent throughout."

Dyer got Newcastle off to the perfect start with his fourth goal of the season, an audacious back-heeled effort which left the Greek goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis floundering.

But it was a Shearer double either side of Bowyer's 54th-minute strike which eased the Magpies into today's quarter-final draw. The former England captain is now just nine goals short of Jackie Milburn's club record of 200, and it would be a brave man who would bet against him getting there before his planned retirement at the end of the season.

However, it was the contribution of his midfielders which gave Souness most pleasure, as Jermaine Jenas and Bowyer, in particular, shone.

"The problem for me at this time is that we have got so many good midfield players," Souness said. "It is trying to keep them all happy, trying to give them games and trying to make sure you come up with the right blend.

"That is the strong part of our team. The intensity with which we play in midfield is fantastic. We played with such intensity from the first minute to the last, and I think that maybe caught Olympiakos out.

"When we gave the ball away, we got the ball back very, very quickly."

Supporters who were far from bowled over by Souness's appointment as Sir Bobby Robson's replacement last September are gradually being won over, and the Scot even heard his name being chanted as an eighth successive victory, a joint record for the club, unfolded. He is not getting carried away, however.

"It is important that they enjoy their football, that is the most important thing at any football club," he said. "But you are also a realist and you know that you are not going to be 4-0 up in every game."

By contrast, the Olympiakos manager Dusan Bajevic was an unhappy man as he headed for home.

"What has happened has happened," he said. "This was our worst game - but I blame the score in Greece.

"We still have two targets left, the Greek league and the Greek cup, so they now will be our aims."

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