Hughton happy with Toon stance
Hughton was a relieved man after Carroll returned from Wembley in one piece. Carroll played 72 minutes of Wednesday night's 2-1 friendly defeat by France as his much-discussed elevation to the senior ranks became a reality, but only after an 11th-hour drama. The Magpies voiced their concerns over the groin injury with which the 21-year-old reported to the Football Association, although insist they never demanded that the player was withdrawn. In the event, Carroll made his debut and returned to Tyneside stiff, but otherwise unscathed, unlike Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard, whose misfortune has added fresh fuel to the club v country debate. Asked if he had sympathy for the Reds, Hughton said: "There is always frustration when a player comes away from an international game with an injury, and that's always in the back of your mind whenever a player goes, certainly as valuable a player as Steven Gerrard is to Liverpool. "We were in that situation this week and fortunately for us, Andy has come through unscathed and at this moment, very much looks like he will be available for Saturday. "But yes, I do have sympathy." Hughton admitted he sent Carroll away expecting him not to play after the club's own medical staff had assessed him on Sunday morning following the 0-0 Premier League draw with Fulham the previous day. He said: "After the game on Saturday, we assessed him on Sunday morning and at that stage, he looked extremely doubtful, not only for Wednesday, but for the weekend, so we voiced our concerns. "It's something we would liked to have kept very private, but that didn't happen. "But the lines of communication between ourselves and the FA and in particular, Franco Baldini, who I spoke to on a few occasions, were always very good. "We stated our case earlier in the week after having assessed Andy on the Sunday. But what we have in Andy is a very tough individual. "They obviously saw that improvement over the last few days and consequently he was able to play. "The fact that he did play, the England medical team were very sure that he was able to play and I am quite sure that when it got to yesterday that if he wasn't fit to play, then they wouldn't have risked him. "He is a very tough individual, is Andy Carroll, and he obviously felt at that stage that he was fit to play, and it has been shown that he was. "That's what we have to look back on now and be grateful he has made his debut. "Let's hope he will learn from that experience of playing at the top level and that he will be a better player for it." Carroll was one of the few England players to emerge from last night's game with any real credit, and Hughton was delighted he was able to make an impression on a difficult night for his country. He said: "It's pleasing for both the club and Andy. "It was a tough game - the French team had periods of the game where they were excellent and in particular, Malouda and Nasri, so it was a difficult night for the England side. "But it was always going to be. When you are blooding so many young players, it is always going to be difficult. "But that's the reason why he [England boss Fabio Capello] chose to do it and for Andy to come away from that with a decent performance is really pleasing." Former Newcastle assistant boss Colin Calderwood, who left his St James' Park post last month to take over at Hibernian, believes Carroll can progress to nail down a regular place in the England team. Calderwood said: "He's got terrific potential and his development's been huge in the last 12, 15 months and the experience of playing week after week, even if it was at Championship level last year, has certainly developed him no end. "I think his progression can almost repeat itself in terms of getting himself to a level to be a regular England starter. "He's a handful for every defence that he plays against, good attitude in the games and terrifically brave and will put his body on the line, not just in terms of going for challenges, but also he'll put himself up when he's not 100%. "He's one that you'd always like to have round about any team or any squad you could be involved with. "I certainly had a great deal of pride seeing him line up. I watched him in his first (England) Under-21 game. "I'm happy for him, but also happy for a lot of people in Newcastle that have developed him very well."