This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Speaking exclusively to Football FanCast, John Hartson has questioned whether Newcastle can truly rely on Andy Carroll this season, and spoke about the decision to sell Aleksandar Mitrovic.
As well as signing Joelinton in a club-record deal from Hoffenheim, the Magpies also succeeded in bringing Carroll back to St James’ Park this summer.
Having only made three appearances this season, and all of them coming off the bench, Hartson has voiced his concerns over Steve Bruce’s side relying on a centre-forward who has had a chequered history with injuries.
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He told Football FanCast: “Andy’s a fantastic striker, you get him fit and you’ve got a real asset but how much can you trust him?
“I know Andy, he’s a great guy. He only came on a free transfer and his contract will probably be based on appearances so he’ll want to get himself fit, but you can’t really rely on having one centre forward who’s been injury prone.”
And with the club having sold fellow target man Mitrovic a year earlier, Hartson admitted he is a big fan of the Serbian’s talents.
He added: “He got sent off a few times and showed a bit of lack of discipline, but he’s thrived at Fulham. They went down last season but he was pivotal to them the year before (when they earned promotion), getting them into the Premier League, he scored an awful lot of goals.
“He’s big, strong, leads the line well and I think he’s got better with his discipline, so I was a big fan.”
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As Joelinton looks to adapt to the pace and intensity of English football, having a second-choice striker who can deputise when needed is a major necessity for Newcastle.
Add to that Mitrovic’s outstanding start for Fulham this season, in which he has scored eight goals in 11 games, and it really shines a light on Newcastle’s struggles up front.
The 25-year-old was hardly the most prolific of strikers for the Magpies, scoring just 17 goals in 72 matches, but his battle-hardened approach and strength at leading the line made him a valuable asset for the side – when he didn’t get himself sent off that is.
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But on his day, Carroll can be a far bigger handful for defenders than Mitrovic, as proven by the fact he has won 6.2 aerial duels per game over his career, compared to the latter’s 3.7. However, as Hartson alludes to, his poor record with injuries means the Tyneside club simply cannot trust him to be firing on all cylinders for the entire season.