Danny Mills has cast doubt on whether or not Newcastle United forward Andy Carroll can make an impact this season.
The Sky Sports pundit questioned Steve Bruce’s decision to have Carroll as a back-up striker at St James’ Park, despite throwing big praise at the forward.
Carroll made his return to action for the Magpies on Saturday with an eight-minute cameo off the bench in the 0-0 draw against Brighton.
Mills admitted that the 30-year-old Geordie is one of the best in the Premier League in the air, and that they could utilise him this season, but that they are scraping the bottom of the barrel by potentially relying on him.
“If he’s fit and you can keep him fit to get him on the pitch for 45 minutes, half an hour, he is one of the best headers on goal there is. Simple as that,” he told Football Insider.
“You’ve then got to play to his strengths – get the ball out wide and get crosses into the box to be able to use that, whether that’s him going for goal or him getting knockdowns for others coming in.”
“You’re relying on someone that hasn’t played a lot of football, he’s hardly played any football and that’s what you’re relying on as a plan b. You’re scraping the bottom of the barrel.”
After a countless number of injuries during his time at West Ham, it is clear to see why Mills could be questioning the Magpies’ decision to bring in Carroll, and attempt to utilise him as a substitute. A recent report from the Telegraph revealed that Newcastle staff are fearful that the 30-year-old won’t be able to start a Premier League game until after Christmas due to his fitness, something that only backs up the point made by Mills. There is no doubting Carroll’s natural physical ability, but Bruce must be careful to not get over-reliant on bringing him off the bench as a last resort to try and force results, with the forward not quite up to speed just yet. Mills’ point is understandable, as everyone can agree that Carroll is one of the best in the air, but many would also agree that Newcastle are scraping the barrel in signing a forward that failed to score a single goal in the Premier League last season. Should Bruce build up an early reliance on a player who clearly isn’t fully fit, he could find himself back to having only Yoshinori Muto on the bench – something which didn’t work at all. There are many question marks surrounding the forward options at Newcastle, and Bruce will have his fingers crossed that Carroll can remain fit and that his each of his strikers can deliver in front of goal as the season goes on.