Carroll becomes latest to be handed iconic shirt
ANDY CARROLL will realise a childhood dream when he runs out in Newcastle's iconic number nine shirt for the opening game of the new Premier League season. Gateshead-born Carroll was confirmed as the custodian of one of the most famous shirts in English football yesterday, belatedly filling the gap that was left when Obafemi Martins joined Wolfsburg 12 months ago. Last season Newcastle boss Chris Hughton opted to submit his squad list without a number nine in an attempt to reduce the pressure on a bunch of strikers who were yet to prove themselves with the Magpies. However, after Carroll scored 17 league goals to help fire the club to the Championship title, Hughton decided to present the 24-year-old with an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of some of the most celebrated names in North-East football. It hasn't really sunk in yet, said Carroll, who will get his first outing in the number nine jersey when Newcastle travel to Norwich for a preseason friendly on Saturday. I'm immensely proud and really it's an unbelievable feeling. When you look at the fantastic players down the years who have worn the shirt, it sends shivers down your spine, it's amazing. Having grown up following and watching the team, I'm obviously aware of the great tradition the number nine shirt holds. It's probably unique in football in that sense and, as I say, to be wearing it is incredible. Billy Cairns became the first Newcastle player to wear a number nine on his back in 1939 and, since then, a host of famous strikers have earned a place in Magpies folklore. The likes of Hughie Gallacher, Jackie Milburn, Malcolm Macdonald, Andy Cole, Les Ferdinand and Alan Shearer all revelled in their position as lead striker. Carroll might lack the experience and gravitas of some of the players to have preceded him, but he insists he is capable of handling the heightened expectation. Alan Shearer was my idol as a young lad, he said. Who would have thought I'd be following in his footsteps It's every young Geordie lad's dream to be a Newcastle United number nine and I'm so lucky to be given that chance. It's an opportunity I relish and I intend doing my best to do the shirt proud. I'd also like to thank Chris and his staff for the faith they have put in me. Hughton will reveal the rest of his squad list shortly, but the Newcastle boss remains hopeful of adding two or three new names to it before his side travel to Old Trafford on the opening Monday night of the season. Meanwhile, Burnley have ended their interest in Fraser Forster, having failed in an attempt to sign the goalkeeper on a season-long loan last week. Newcastle officials pulled the plug on the proposed deal in order to guard against possible injury concerns related to Tim Krul. Ben Tozer is on trial at Leyton Orient, however, with a view to completing a permanent move to the League One side.
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