Newcastle pair `ideal for England'

Alan Shearer has told Glenn Hoddle that his Newcastle United striking partnership with Les Ferdinand could propel England to World Cup qualification.

The pounds 21m pair both scored - Ferdinand twice - as Newcastle moved up to second place in the Premiership with a 4-3 victory over Aston Villa at St James' Park on Monday night.

As well as the goals, the strike force that Kevin Keegan brought to Newcastle in the hope that they would help to end a 70-year wait for the championship gave the potential England centre-back pairing of Gareth Southgate and Ugo Ehiogu a torrid time.

When asked about their international prospects, Shearer said: "We can't do any more. We have both been playing reasonably well and both been scoring goals. That's all we can do at club level and now both of us have to hope that we get the call. But the rest is now up to the manager. Only he can answer the question of whether we will play together for England and only he can decide."

Shearer, the pounds 15m man who was made England captain before the opening World Cup qualifying win in Moldova last month, has scored five goals in his black and white No 9 shirt after returning "home" from Blackburn in the summer.

His place in Hoddle's selection is not in doubt, but Ferdinand needs performances like Monday night's to put him uppermost in the England coach's thoughts. The double against Villa took his tally for the campaign to eight in nine matches and he looks the perfect foil for Shearer, making nonsense of early-season suggestions by critics that they were an unsuitable pairing for club or country.

Keegan was naturally delighted with their showing. "Their partnership up front looked everything I knew it could be," the Newcastle manager said. "Alan's arrival has helped take some of the burden off Les, who was absolutely superb. It wasn't just his two goals - he will always get goals - it was his work-rate that stood out."

Ehiogu has also joined the Shearer-Ferdinand fan club and admitted he was relieved that he does not face such power every week. Villa's captain said: "We won't come up against the likes of those two very often and I'm glad because they are something special. We helped them with some indifferent defending, but you've got to give them credit because they took full advantage."

However, scoring honours on the night went to Aston Villa's Dwight Yorke. The Tobagan striker went into the game without a goal this season after scoring 25 in all competitions last term. He looked back to his best against Newcastle, hitting a brilliant hat-trick, having another late strike ruled out by a marginal offside decision and also hitting the post.

Ehiogu said: "His goals showed what a good finisher he is and it's nice to see him finding the net again because he is such an important player for us."

It was a sentiment echoed by Villa's manager, Alan Little, who adopted a similar view to Keegan in that his striker's performance pleased him more than the goals. He said: "It's nice for Dwight and it's a reward for the effort he has been putting in. His all-round performance was good and that was the most important thing. The goals were just a bonus."

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