Andy Carroll, Newcastle United’s rugged centre-forward, controls the ball against Arsenal.
Andy Carroll, Newcastle United’s rugged centre-forward, controls the ball against Arsenal.

Arsene Wenger says Andy Carroll is ready for England

LONDON // When Arsene Wenger praises an English player, it is worth paying attention.

The Arsenal manager has signed only seven Englishmen in his 14 years in charge of the Gunners.

So the Frenchman's assessment that Andy Carroll, Newcastle United's strapping striker, is ready to be thrust on to the international stage is noteworthy.

Carroll terrorised Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday in a display reminiscent of an old-fashioned centre-forward as he inspired Newcastle to a 1-0 win.

The role of the "big No 9" is a particularly strong tradition at Newcastle given Alan Shearer's contribution to the club, and that has endeared local lad Carroll to the club's supporters.

It was not just the towering headed goal that Carroll scored but his all-round contribution which caught the eye, leading the Newcastle line superbly with brute force in the air and subtlety on the deck.

Carroll, 21, was watched on Sunday by Fabio Capello, the England national team manger.

England play France in a friendly later this month and Wenger feels Carroll has the quality to move on to the international stage against his countrymen.

"If I was a national manager do I think Carroll is ready to play ? Yes I would pick him," Wenger said. "Of his type of forward he is outstanding. He was a real handful against us. He is hard to play against."

Despite Wenger's reputation of promoting attractive, passing football with the ball on the ground, he is not adverse to playing with a strong target man.

Indeed, in his early days as a manager at Monaco in the late 1980s, Wenger signed the then England international centre-forward Mark Hateley at the same time that he recruited the silky talents of Glenn Hoddle, the Tottenham Hotspur legend. Wenger believes Carroll is of similar stock to Hateley, who also played for AC Milan and Glasgow Rangers.

Carroll's style resembles that of Hateley. Tall, lean, left-footed, powerful in the air, but with good close control and a turn of pace. They even have the same hairstyle.

"Yes there are similarities between Carroll and Hateley although when I had Hateley at Monaco he was much older. Carroll is young and has great potential," said Wenger.

Such is the player's potential that he has already been linked with a move to Chelsea by the British press. Carroll has already been involved in off-the-field incidents requiring police involvement and court hearings. Sunday also brought more lurid tabloid allegations about his private life.

Even so it is likely to be only a matter of time before Capello - who is searching for a target man to replace the retired Emile Heskey and will probably be without Wayne Rooney for the France game - calls up Carroll to his senior squad.


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