Sol ready to make Magpies bow

BY foxsports • September 9, 2010

The 35-year-old defender has spent the last few weeks working his way ever closer to match fitness having missed the start of pre-season training following his marriage. However, Campbell, who started the last campaign in League Two with Notts County, but ended it starring for Arsenal once again, now has two reserve team games under his belt and is ready to stake his claim for a place in Hughton's plans. The manager has insisted all along that he would not risk the former Tottenham star until he was fully fit knowing that with his 36th birthday just a matter of days away, any needless injury could take time to shake off. However, he is happy that the time has now come. Hughton said: "He is certainly available to play. He has played in two reserve games, admittedly not for 90 minutes, but he is fit and available. "Sometimes you don't know if someone is ready until they are given the opportunity." The fact that Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson have performed so competently during the opening weeks of the campaign has made it easier for Hughton to hold Campbell back, and either man would be unfortunate to lose his place. However, his wealth of experience and the standards he continues to set even in the twilight of his career mean he could prove invaluable as the Magpies attempt to secure their place in the Premier League. Hughton said: "Centre-back is a key position. We are very conscious of where Sol is at this moment, but the most important thing is that he is available." Campbell may not be the only new face in the 18 for Saturday's game at St James' Park, with midfielders Cheik Tiote and Hatem Ben Arfa also vying for places in the squad. Ivory Coast international Tiote, 24, a holding player by trade, joined the club from FC Twente at the end of last month, while 23-year-old French winger Ben Arfa followed him to Tyneside on loan from Marseille. Tiote will compete with the likes of Alan Smith, Joey Barton and the currently injured Danny Guthrie for a place in the middle of the park, while Ben Arfa is another attacking option. Hughton said: "What we have at the moment is a very settled team. The three new players are vying for places, which has made the competition all the greater. "The important thing is that we now have a squad which is good enough and capable enough to get through a very demanding season. "At the moment, the problem is that we have lots of players available for selection, but we are very aware that at other stages of the season, things could be very, very difficult and we need to have the squad to cope with those difficult periods." Hughton still has a worry over striker Andy Carroll, who had to pull out of the England Under-21 squad with an ankle injury. However, he returned to training today and is hopeful of being available to attempt to add to his tally of four goals for the season. Hughton said: "Andy trained today for the first time. We hope there is no reaction in his ankle. He came through the session fine, but we will have to see whether there is a reaction after that."


share story