Pardew eager to develop Carroll
The homegrown 21-year-old has made huge strides in the last 12 months to establish himself as the club's biggest goalscoring threat and force his way into senior England contention. He was nurtured through that process, of course, by Pardew's predecessor Chris Hughton, and the striker was as upset as anyone by his departure last week. It was Hughton who decided the time was right to hand Carroll the famous number nine shirt during the summer and he who sought to bring the movement to his game which has transformed him from promising youngster to genuine Premier League marksman. However, having worked with a string of top flight strikers at various stages of their careers in the past, Pardew is confident he can take up the baton. Wintry weather on Tyneside over the last few days has limited the new manager's opportunities to take a close look at Carroll's strengths and weaknesses, but he is sure he has a player of rare potential on his hands. He said: "I just think he is a sound character, and that bodes well. "If I am honest, on the training ground, I haven't seen that much because of the conditions. "But in his performances, he has set himself his own standards, and I will continue that and improve on that if I can. "I have done well with strikers in the past - Bobby Zamora, Marlon Harewood, Carlos Tevez, Darren Bent, Teddy Sheringham - so I would like to think some of the things I have pulled from them, I can dip into those which suit his style." Pardew has made Carroll's retention one of his top priorities amid speculation that the big boys may be ready to test the Magpies' resolve to hang on to him during the January transfer window. He has been encouraged with what he has heard from the Gateshead-born frontman since his arrival at St James' Park, and believes the more testing task will be to persuade defender Steven Taylor, whose contract expires at the end of the season, that his future remains on Tyneside. Pardew said: "Andy has made it quite clear that he loves this city and he loves this club. "In terms of Steven, that's a little bit different because there's a contract situation that we need to make sure we resolve." It has been a whirlwind few days for Pardew himself as he comes to terms with his new job and attempts to plot a path through the fury which greeted, if not his arrival, then certainly Hughton's departure. He said: "I know the feeling towards my appointment wasn't shouted from the hills everywhere here, but I think the players have accepted what I am about and the staff, and I have been very, very pleased in the period I have been here by the welcome, more than anything." Last Saturday's 3-1 home victory over Liverpool just 48 hours after Pardew was officially unveiled as Hughton's successor got his reign off to the perfect start and left the Magpies sitting in eighth place in the table. However, they remain just six points clear of the drop zone and only four better off than Saturday's opponents Birmingham in 16th, and there is little room for complacency. Alex McLeish's men have won just one of their last eight league games, that victory coming against champions Chelsea, but the trip to St Andrew's will be another tricky one. Pardew said: "I like the way they play. They put an honest performance out on the pitch. "Like ourselves, we would love to have some more technical players who take our teams into the top eight or nine. "But first and foremost are diligence and professionalism, and they have that in abundance, so it's a difficult game for us."