CHRIS Hughton says in-form striker Peter Lovenkrands deserves to make the World Cup with Denmark.
Lovenkrands notched his 13th goal in 26 games in the Middlesbrough draw on Saturday – an outstanding return for a player who had no pre-season and is still mourning his father, who passed away after a long battle with Alzheimers in January.
His mental strength has impressed Hughton and also convinced the Newcastle boss that playing through the centre rather than on the left wing is the way to squeeze the best out of his great Dane.
“I have been very impressed with Peter and he has just grown in confidence as the season has gone on,” he said. “He’s a strong character – he has proved that with the way he has coped with things off-the-field. And he’s also probably changed my mind a bit – I brought him in because he can play several different positions but he has done so well as an out-and-out striker that has influenced my thinking.
“He is a striker who just loves playing off that last defender and can run off him. The goal on Saturday was a typical Peter Lovenkrands goal – but he needs the service from the likes of Jonas Gutierrez, so he should be given credit as well.”
Hughton reckons that confidence is the key – and says that with his run of goals it would not surprise him if he got the nod for South Africa.
“It is not my role to do the national manager’s job but he couldn’t get a better reference from me,” he said.
“This is a player scoring goals on a regular basis – albeit not in the top division – but he is playing with real confidence at the moment.
“I would be absolutely delighted if he made it to the World Cup.”
Meanwhile, Hughton says he is not tempted to appoint a specialist striker coach to help the development of his forwards.
It had been suggested that might help the development of Nile Ranger, who has seen his role marginalised since the addition of Leon Best to Newcastle’s attacking pack, but the United boss said it wasn’t on the horizon.
“It’s not something I’ve considered,” he said. “Perhaps you would like to do more individual coaching than we have done but when you have the amount of games you have, it’s difficult to do it.”