Monday, July 11, 2011

Wenger gives thumbs-up to Magpies' Carroll

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Newcastle United's English forward Andy Carroll brings the ball down on his chest against Arsenal during the Premiership soccer match at the Emirates Stadium in London on Sunday. Carroll scored the only goal of the game as Newcastle won 1-0. Adrian Dennis / Agence France-Presse

Arsene Wenger endorsed Andy Carroll's England claims after the Newcastle striker consigned Arsenal to a surprise 1-0 defeat at the Emirates Stadium.

Carroll, who was watched by England coach Fabio Capello on Sunday, headed his sixth goal of the season to secure victory and proved a constant threat to the Gunners backline.

The performance was timely, coming as it did six days before Capello names his squad for the international friendly with France and just hours after lurid newspaper allegations about the player's off-field activities.

Carroll, 21, recently appeared in court on assault charges, but his display against Arsenal helped divert attention away from his private life and helped convince Wenger he is good enough to play at a higher level.

"Carroll is a handful," admitted Arsenal manager Wenger. "I believed our two center backs handled their strikers well. I believe the two center backs were our best players today because they did very well. But Carroll is a handful."

Asked if Carroll was ready to make the step up, he added: "I think so, yes."

Newcastle manager Chris Hughton was more circumspect, claiming Carroll is still improving as a player.

"He is a player who is developing," he said. "Apart from having a prowess in the air as we saw, there are others aspects of his game that he is very much developing.

"He is giving us a mobility that can stretch defenders. He has still got a fair way to go. He is working on all aspects of his game and going in the right direction.

"I would like to see him picked for Newcastle United, that is the most important thing. Anything that comes from that will mean that he has earned it."

Agence France-Presse

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