Steve Bruce should recall Andy Carroll to the Newcastle United starting line-up at home to Aston Villa on Friday night to solve a common issue with his side.
Carroll has only featured for 13 minutes over the Magpies’ last eight Premier League fixtures, having been restricted to a bit-part role since the close of the winter market.
Carroll has even, at times, grown frustrated with his limited game time after being left an unused substitute for five of Newcastle’s 12 Premier League fixtures in 2021 already, even after doubling his tally for starts to four with successive appearances in mid-January.
Outings against Arsenal and Aston Villa also returned the 32-year-old’s second and third longest appearances for the top-flight campaign with 69 and 71 minutes respectively, while playing 105 minutes in the FA Cup defeat at the Emirates Stadium earlier in the year.
It was a vastly contrasting picture last time out when the Gateshead-born striker came on in stoppage-time for a 30-second cameo against West Bromwich Albion, after which Carroll seemingly offered a subtle message to Bruce that he wants to start on Friday.
It was the latest apparent outburst from the £75,000-per-week frontman, who stated, via quotes by the Mirror, last month: “If you’re a player that just accepts being on the bench and accepts not coming on, what’s the point of being a footballer?
“Every single time when I don’t come on the pitch or don’t start, I’m angry, you know, I’m angry. Even if it’s the right decision.
“When I do come on for the last ten minutes, I try and smash a couple of people around a bit. You come off after a game, you’re on the way home, sitting in bed, and I can’t sleep. My heads going over it all and I’m sitting thinking: ‘If only this happened’.”
Opening the action against Dean Smith’s Villans would mark only Carroll’s seventh start in any competition this term, and perhaps offer the forward a first chance toward earning a new deal.
According to Chronicle Live, Carroll – who is keen to stay on Tyneside – will discover by mid-May whether or not he will be offered a contract to return for the 2021/22 season as he is otherwise a free agent in the summer.
Carroll will likely have work to do between now and then to prove he deserves fresh terms, given Bruce’s preference of other options, and can take a strong stride toward securing his Toon future on Friday night.
Against West Brom last Sunday, Newcastle players only found a teammate with two of their 20 attempted crosses for a woeful 10% success rate, per SofaScore.
It was the latest in a run of poor performances from United, who similarly recorded a 24% success rate at home to Wolves with four of 17 deliveries finding a black and white shirt. That was up from the 15% (2/13) achieved at Manchester United, but down on the 31% (5/16) managed away to Chelsea.
Last month’s Stamford Bridge affair was the Magpies’ best display in five Premier League games for crosses, yet that came off the back of recording a zero per cent success rate against Southampton (0/6).
Carroll would be expected to help turn his side’s fortunes around by offering an outlet in attack to target, with only centre-half Ciaran Clark winning more aerial duels per top-flight outing (3.4/5.4) than the centre-forward (3.3/5.1) for Newcastle this season, per WhoScored.
Given Dwight Gayle has also not scored since December and Joelinton since November, it may be time for Bruce to unleash Carroll – who scored against Leicester City in January – when Newcastle host Aston Villa on Friday.
Things haven’t been working since Callum Wilson’s injury, so Bruce should opt for a new tactic of allowing Carroll to get in the box and do what he does best.