Andy Carroll is expected to feature heavily for Newcastle during their final nine Premier League games, having improved his fitness during lockdown.
The former Liverpool and West Ham striker’s career has been blighted by injuries and there were fears he could miss the remainder of the 2019/20 season with a hip problem picked up over the festive period.
However, those fears have been eased somewhat by Carroll’s efforts during lockdown. The Star report that Newcastle manager Steve Bruce has been impressed by the England international’s performances in training.
He is also said to have taken full part in contact games and has reported no concerns over his previous injury.
The Magpies will face high-flying Sheffield United in their first game back after the Premier League’s enforced hiatus and it is expected Carroll will take a spot on the bench, likely meaning misfiring forward Joelinton will start.
While Bruce’s first season at St James’ Park has gone better than originally expected, with Newcastle eight points clear of the relegation zone ahead of their run-in, scoring goals has proved to be a major issue.
Newcastle have netted just 25 strikes in 29 top flight games, which is the joint-worst record alongside 20th-placed Norwich. Jonjo Shelvey is their top scorer with five so far, while another eight players have each chipped in with two apiece. Joelinton is still stuck on the one he scored against Tottenham back in August, while Carroll has three assists in 13 games – the majority of those appearances have come from the bench.
Carroll’s future at Newcastle is still very much up in the air. He signed a 12-month contract nine months ago, with his wages largely dictated by his amount of appearances, but he has not played enough matches to automatically trigger an extension clause.