Pardew mulls over new skipper

The £4million departure of Kevin Nolan to West Ham has not

only deprived Pardew of last season’s top scorer, but his skipper

and a major influence in the dressing room, while the

£35million sale of Andy Carroll to Liverpool in January left

the short worn in the past by the likes of Jackie Milburn, Malcolm

Macdonald and Alan Shearer vacant. However, the manager will use

the pre-season programme to assess which of his players he wants to

wear the armband when hostilities resume in earnest. He told the

club’s official website: “I have ideas, but I will probably pick it

with a week to go. “We will see how pre-season unfolds and see how

the squad assembles itself, how it looks and what shape it is in.

“I will then take a view from there because it is an important

role, and possibly a few players could wear the armband during the

pre-season friendlies.” Goalkeeper Steve Harper has led the side in

the past, although the 36-year-old could face a fight with Tim Krul

for his place, while Joey Barton’s future on Tyneside remains in

doubt as he enters the final year of his contract. Fabricio

Coloccini and Cheick Tiote have been touted as possible

replacements for Nolan, and Pardew knows he has a big decision to

make. The identity of the man who wears the number nine shirt is

perhaps not so important – it remained unused following Shearer’s

retirement until Obafemi Martins took it, and unoccupied again

after the Nigerian’s departure until it was handed to Carroll.

However, Pardew said: “The number nine shirt is equally important.

I will leave the number nine as late as I can. “I know just what

that shirt means to this football club, but there will be a few

contenders who could wear that shirt and do it justice. “It is an

important shirt and I might think of giving it to a player who

doesn’t get weighed down by it. I will have to assess the

characters of the players to make sure that doesn’t happen.”