Steve Bruce must not unleash Newcastle United striker Andy Carroll against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday in his search for Callum Wilson’s replacement.
The Toon boss has now tackled two Premier League games without the ex-AFC Bournemouth star due to injury, but is yet to settle on the £20m summer signing’s stand-in.
Wilson sustained a deep hamstring tear during the Magpies’ 3-2 win over Southampton earlier this month and was replaced by Joelinton, who opened the action last time out against Manchester United.
Dwight Gayle had been favoured away to Chelsea before Newcastle’s trip to Old Trafford, earning his first and only start of the season so far in any competition, but only played the final 11 minutes in last Sunday’s 3-1 defeat to the Red Devils.
That’s despite Bruce losing Joelinton early in the second half due to a groin issue, and it remains to be seen if the Brazilian will be passed fit to face Wolves. If not, Gayle could return, though there have been calls for Carroll to be given his chance at leading the line.
Liam Kennedy of The Shields Gazette believes Carroll has been “unlucky” to not get much game time in Wilson’s absence, having produced a “solid” run of performances in January. The Chronicle’s Lee Ryder also feels the 32-year-old should be given more of a look-in.
“Carroll, I know he’s got his critics, but he’s a presence in both boxes and he’s probably what they are going to need,” Ryder said on the Everything is Black and White podcast. “They’re in a fight, they need fighters on the pitch like him. While he’s fit, I’d have him on the field.”
But Bruce must ignore the suggestions to start Carroll against Wolves on Saturday night, as the nine-cap former England international is not the one to answer Newcastle’s search.
Carroll has played just 12 minutes over Newcastle’s last six Premier League games, after earning the last of his four top-flight starts for the season in United’s dismal 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa last month.
The £3m-rated flop lacked sharpness when it mattered most at Villa Park and was hauled off for Ryan Fraser with 20 minutes still to play, as Bruce tried desperately to flip the script as the Toon were humbled on his latest return to the Birmingham-based outfit.
Carroll momentarily looked like he could spark a comeback whilst Villa were only a goal to the good, but could not do anything of worth with Javier Manquillo’s crosses before Jack Grealish guided his effort in off the underside of the crossbar.
Bruce would be taking a massive gamble to now hope that Carroll can double that record against a buoyant Wolves side fresh off back-to-back wins, while also taking away the energy that Joelinton brough to Newcastle’s attack against Manchester United.
Joelinton was an ever-willing runner at Old Trafford before his injury as he tried to harry the Red Devils, which is something that Carroll would not be expected to match.