Payback time for Huckerby

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The Independent Online
Kevin Keegan is hoping Darren Huckerby does not make Newcastle pay for sending him to Coventry at Highfield Road tonight.

Keegan sold Huckerby to the Sky Blues last month in a pounds 1m deal. But the Magpies' manager admits Huckerby has the potential to make him regret letting the 20-year-old striker go. "He has got things going for him and he could rebound on us like any player you sell," Keegan said.

"But it was my decision to sell him and you've just got to have the courage to take risks. We've got to live with that risk whenever we play against teams we've sold players to."

Keegan stresses his decision to sell Huckerby was no reflection on the player's potential but the result of having an embarrassment of riches where forwards are concerned. "When you look at what he had in front of him it doesn't mean to say he can't be a very talented player in the future," said Keegan.

"He had Alan Shearer, Les Ferdinand, Tino Asprilla and Paul Kitson ahead of him and that's a lot of competition.

"He'd been here a year and was definitely coming on but he was just a little bit too far away from the team and I felt the lad should go on and further his career somewhere else."

Huckerby is hoping Coventry can give Gordon Strachan his first win nearly six weeks after taking over from Ron Atkinson but admits he would like to see Newcastle lift the title and fears for Keegan's future if the Magpies do not win a trophy this season.

"Kevin is under a lot of pressure now from the media and the supporters and he's got to win things this season," Huckerby said. "I don't know what will happen if that isn't the situation considering the amount of money spent. The chairman has got to see some reward for the amount of investment he has made.

"But I do want Newcastle to win the League and the cups if we don't manage it. It is a fantastic club and it is well documented how much I admire Peter Beardsley.

"It will be a special game for me but I won't be thinking about my time there come kick-off, just getting three points for Coventry. I think we just need a win to kick things into action and hopefully it will be against Newcastle."

Strachan says Huckerby must not turn tonight's clash into a personal mission to prove Keegan wrong. "Darren's got nothing to prove to Newcastle United and Kevin Keegan. He's got to prove himself to Coventry City, the coaches and the supporters," he said.

Keegan admits that Newcastle must make the most of matches against the likes of Coventry if they are to maintain their title challenge. But he also knows from experience, after last Monday's goalless draw at Nottingham Forest, that teams battling for Premiership survival are tough to beat.

"If we play like we're capable of playing, Coventry is a realistic three- pointer for us but, having said that, teams at the bottom, like Coventry, are capable of turning over the top teams.

"They've got some very good players and I think it surprises a lot of people that they are down at the bottom of the division."

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