Andy Carroll went from being deemed too profligate to succeed in the Premier League to being touted as a potential England centre-forward in the time it took him to net a hat-trick against Aston Villa. The giant striker, who had missed a great chance to score six days earlier at Manchester United when he headed wide from close range, scored three times in front of Franco Baldini, England's assistant manager, as Newcastle won 6-0 at the weekend, prompting a raft of plaudits. Jonas Gutierrez, Newcastle's Argentine World Cup winger, said: "He has a big future and if he is intelligent he can have a big, big future for England."
Tony Pulis, the fiery Stoke manager, had another reason to get angry this week when Asmar Begovic, the goalkeeper, opted out of Tuesday night's 2-1 Carling Cup win over Shrewsbury. Begovic is said to be a target of Fulham and Chelsea, and told his manager he was not mentally attuned to playing in the cup tie. "We pay him to play for this football club and we want players to respect the club, but he's shown no respect," Pulis said. "What he's done is totally disrespectful to the club." Begovic, who is Stoke's No 2, was wanted as cover for Thomas Sorensen, who was rested ahead of tomorrow's game with Chelsea.
Darren Bent, the only Sunderland player to have scored so far this season, has expressed surprise that Kenwyne Jones was allowed to leave the Stadium of Light. Bent formed a strong alliance with the Trinidad and Tobago striker last season, and he hopes Steve Bruce, the manager, can find someone to replace him after he left for Stoke. "I thought he was brilliant for us last season," Bent said. "Hopefully the gaffer can make one or two additions to the squad before the transfer window closes next week." Bent is living up to his side of the goalscoring bargain this season, having already got three goals to his name.
Harry Redknapp toasted Tottenham Hotspur's 4-0 victory over Young Boys of Berne to secure their Champions League qualification before turning his attention to beating Wigan tomorrow. Spurs fans may be dreaming of forthcoming trips to Europe, but the ever pragmatic Redknapp, is keeping his feet firmly on the floor. "This is a club with European tradition, under the great Bill Nicholson, I would not be in the same class as him, and never will be, but it is great for the club to be in this position now," Redknapp said. "We have got Wigan here and it is important we continue to pick up points in the Premier League."
* Compiled by Gary Meenaghan and Paul Radley