ALAN Pardew feels there is no point trying to deny the loss of Andy Carroll for the remainder of Newcastle United's festive program is a sickening setback ahead of crucial games against Wigan and West Ham.
The Journal understands there is a fear inside the United camp Carroll has suffered a minor tear in his thigh muscle which will sideline him for at least a month.
That would be a huge blow given the pivotal role Carroll has in the side, which goes well beyond the 11 goals he has scored this season.
United’s whole style of play has been built around the England international and Pardew will need to think on his feet as he prepares the side for two games they simply cannot afford to lose. “You can’t dress it up,” said Pardew, who needs to pick up points against two sides who are keeping Newcastle out of the relegation dogfight at the halfway stage of the season.
“But it’s about the rest of us pulling our socks up and putting together an excellent performance to make up for the loss.
“Andy has a thigh injury, which is being assessed. He has travelled down to London with the doctor to see just how serious, or not serious, it is. Are there fears it could be serious? Yes, but we’re all a bit in the dark at this stage.
“You are talking about one of the best young players in the country, who has had a fantastic first half of the season. We don’t want him to be missing for too long, that’s for sure.”
Carroll has scored six goals in Newcastle’s last ten games. Only one other striker has scored in that time – Peter Løvenkrands in the 3-1 defeat at West Bromwich Albion – and United’s lack of firepower is an obvious concern ahead of the transfer window.
Pardew has confirmed The Journal’s story last week that the Magpies are interested in signing Tottenham striker Robbie Keane on loan until the end of the season, and he expects most of his transfer business to be focused on recruiting attacking players.
In the meantime, the new manager can only hope Carroll receives some good news when he gets the results back from a scan later today, and a fit again Shola Ameobi, Løvenkrands Leon Best and Nile Ranger can step up to the challenge of filling the void.
He said: “The focus for the team is not so much that Andy will be missing, it’s more about our tactical approach and the questions we have to answer in the immediate term. It’s no good looking backwards or forwards, it’s all about the next game.
“Can Newcastle score without Andy Carroll? Yes, I think so. We have enough in the group to suggest we can. Hopefully, he will not be out for too long, so I don’t want to harp on too much about it. They are a big couple of games coming up and both teams are on decent runs. Their confidence has picked up.
“When Wigan went down to ten men (against Arsenal) on Wednesday, they nicked a goal straight away from a set play and there was a real resilience. When teams are on good form, they have that in them.”
The signing of Keane would appear to be high on Pardew’s priority list, but it is far from a done deal and there will be stiff competition for his services should Spurs agree to let him out on loan again.
They would prefer to sell the 30-year-old Republic of Ireland international, but Newcastle’s budget means they are only interested in a temporary deal at this stage.
When asked whether Keane was a target Pardew said: “Our priority is to strengthen offensively if possible. That will be the area we are looking at.
“I think that, if any player of that sort of quality becomes available, we will be interested in them. If it’s possible to bring them to the club, we will definitely be having a look to see.
“It’s a fluid market. Whoever is for sale has to be at the right price. If a loan situation comes our way, that would probably be the route if I’m honest.”