NEWCASTLE United have been dealt a blow ahead of tomorrow’s Wear-Tyne derby at Sunderland as boss Alan Pardew ruled out star striker Andy Carroll.
The talismanic hitman, who has fired in 11 goals in 20 games for United this season, has been struggling with a thigh injury and has missed their last three games as a result – including last weekend’s FA Cup third round shocker at Stevenage.
United fans were no doubt praying their top man would be fit in time to hammer a few past their nearest and dearest and consign last week’s nightmare to history – as well as show Sunderland that a certain 5-1 win was no fluke.
But the 21-year-old’s absence looks likely to see the Leon Best/Shola Ameobi partnership in action at the Stadium of Light.
Pardew said: “Andy won’t play. He’s not even close really. We’ll just have to patch him up and repair things as quickly as we can over the next few weeks.
“It’s a huge disappointment for the player – he’s a local lad and he was desperate to play. But as a club, we have to overcome his absence, like we have in the last two Premier League matches. Hopefully, the other players will respond in the right manner again.
“We were hoping that a total rest would lead to a real improvement in Andy’s thigh. That hasn’t really happened.
“Although it’s not a long-term problem, he won’t play this weekend and we feel that Tottenham could be a doubt as well. After that, he should be fine.”
Pardew also revealed he thought it best to reveal the news on Carroll now instead of keeping Sunderland guessing right up until kick-off as to whether or not Carroll would play.
He added: “I thought it was only fair to the public to let them know. It’s not going to make any difference to Sunderland’s plans. I would expect them to plan for him and not for him. I think it’s just an honesty that I wanted to bring here.
“As much as I can, I will tell the media and the fans as it is. Also, for ourselves, it makes it clear in the mind we have a job on our hands.
“Not only are we missing Andy, we’re also missing a very influential midfield player who has been one of the stars of the season, we also have Cheik (Tioté) suspended, so everyone has to pull that little bit harder.”