The 30-year-old has been back involved over the past few weeks, having rejoined the club this summer with a pre-existing injury. Bruce is clearly now keen to get him into his match day squad.
“There were times when he was younger when he was unplayable,” he said, as per The Chronicle. “When he was at his peak and, of course, if we see a glimpse of that it will be worth the wait.
“He has done everything he can in rehabilitation. He is desperate to come back and it has given everyone a shot in the arm at the right time. As a footballer, of his type, he was as good as you get.”
If Bruce is expecting to see the Carroll of nine years ago, during the pomp of his first spell at Newcastle, then he may wind up being bitterly disappointed. Injuries and increasing age have taken a big toll on the giant striker over the past few years, with his time at West Ham United representing a nadir in terms of spells on the treatment table. However, he is back where he started now, in his hometown, and Bruce is clearly hopeful that the England international can come in and make an impact at first team level. That’s what they signed him for, after all, even if it was a highly incentivised deal. Bruce’s comment about seeing a ‘glimpse’ of Carroll’s peak suggests that he knows the man in front of him isn’t the same youngster who terrorised the top flight back in 2010, though. Bruce is praying for a hint of that kind of quality, but he’s aware that it’s unlikely we’ll see Carroll’s full compliment of tricks ever again.