Carroll keeps feet on the ground

Carroll has been handed the number nine shirt worn with such

distinction by the former Magpies skipper, as well as the likes of

Jackie Milburn and Malcolm Macdonald before him and the 21-year-old

Geordie repaid manager Chris Hughton’s confidence in him with a

superb hat-trick in Sunday’s stunning 6-0 demolition of Aston

Villa. An approving Shearer was among the crowd at St James’ Park

to witness the feat, as were England boss Fabio Capello’s

lieutenants Franco Baldini and Stuart Pearce. However, England

Under-21 international Carroll, who has been courted by Scotland on

the senior international front and has also attracted interest from

a series of Premier League competitors, is keeping his feet firmly

on the ground. He said: “I just concentrate on myself. I know I can

play football and score goals like I did, and that’s what I go out

there to do. “Obviously, it’s great for people to see what I can

do, but I’m just happy with the three points and all the lads

playing like they did.” That sentiment was mirrored by Hughton in

the immediate aftermath of the game, but the former Republic of

Ireland international could hardly have been more pleased with the

way his fledgling striker responded to the pressure of wearing the

number nine shirt for the first time in a Premier League game on

Tyneside. Newcastle were already leading 2-0, courtesy of Joey

Barton’s piledriver and Kevin Nolan’s close-range header when

Carroll thumped home his first 11 minutes before the break. He made

it 4-0 with 67 minutes gone and then after Nolan had helped himself

to a second, started and finished a flowing move in injury-time to

complete his treble, all three of them scored with his left foot, a

significant achievement for a man known more for his prowess in the

air. Carroll said: “It was a great game, a great performance by all

the lads and getting a hat-trick in the first game of the season at

home was just fantastic. “There were no headers in it, they were

all left-footed and really it was just the quality of the balls

that went into the box for me to score the goals.” Both Carroll and

Hughton know the youngster will have to reproduce that sort of form

on a sustained basis if he is to live up to his billing. However,

team-mate Jose Enrique has been hugely impressed by the academy

graduate and is convinced he can score the goals the club need to

achieve their first objective for the season, top-flight survival.

The Spaniard said: “I have told him I hope he scores 100 goals this

season because it would be good for us! “He is a young lad and he

has to learn a lot, like me, but if he continues the same way, he

can win a lot of games for us. “I said to him after the game, it

was not just his goals, he was really, really good. “Being a

striker here is very difficult because Alan Shearer is a legend.

“But Andy is a striker who is good with his head, he’s strong and

he is going to be very important for us.” Newcastle return to

action on Wednesday evening when they travel to League Two side

Accrington in the Carling Cup second round ahead of Saturday’s

tricky league visit to Wolves.