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Welcome to Newcastle's Plan D: From 35m Andy Carroll to the Finnish journeyman without a club

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11 Feb 2011 17:16:35

Welcome to Newcastle's Plan D: From 35m Andy Carroll to the Finnish journeyman without a club

How did it come to this? From England's best young centre forward, a local lad brimming with potential and the presence to handle the Newcastle No 9 shirt, to a 34-year-old released by a Championship club, who last played in November and is best known for his celebration, rather than his goals. This is presumably Plan D. The best a plan can get: Shefki Kuqi poses for the cameras at his Newcastle unveiling A was for Andy. B for Best (and Shola) and Buying a last minute replacement. Both failed.  C was to Continue without Carroll. Shola Ameobi's broken cheekbone in the first game without a new man to replace Liverpool's ?35 million striker hastened the need for more cover. D looks like it smacks of Desperation. But D for Dilemma is fairer and D for 'what have we got to lose?' doesn't quite work. As Alan Pardew pointed out this week, teenage local lad Michael Richardson has been on the bench for the last two games and he has played in five reserve team matches. Even if he was ready, he's not ready. Pardew has poured over the continent's unregistered players and it didn't make great reading. 'I didn't have much of a list if I'm honest,' he said. 'A couple of players mentioned weren't even eligible, it was false information, etc. A couple of the players, looking at theirreferences, looked very... Obviously, you ask yourself, why are they out of contract?' Tough times: Alan Pardew Kuqi's name did stand out. The makers of EA Sport's FIFA 12 computer game set up camp at Newcastle's training ground this week to take their player recognition technology to a new level. It's mind-blowing stuff. In a tent in the corner of the indoor pitch, they set up 18 cameras, positioned all the way round a small circular chair, to take facial pictures of every member of the squad. Each player enters the tent, sits down and, pose ready, (in some cases, hair perfectly gelled, stubble cleared), the 18 flashes go off simultaneously. It takes a couple of minutes. Hopefully Kuqi was asked to take his seat, too. Then again, any snub is unlikely to send out the wrong messages to the former Finland international striker. Kuqi knows he is only likely to wear the No 42 shirt until the end of May. Pardew said: 'I've said to him "let's be honest, there's probably nothing at the end of the season for you, we just want you to bring your personality and your playing ability to the club to see us through to the end of the season" and he's absolutely fine with that.' Amid all the hullabaloo of Cheik Tiote's unforgettable equaliser last weekend, the importance of the point earned against Arsenal was overlooked. As well as sealing the Premier League's greatest comeback, it lifted a squad which looked destined for complete humiliation until Abou Diaby's moment of madness. The draw also took them to 31 points, six short of last season's safety total. A defeat, even 4-3, and the wounds of Carroll's exit would have been exposed. And the signing of Kuqi might not have received the same response from supporters who are sympathetic to Pardew's helplessness on transfer deadline day. They just expect safety, and waiting to see if Mike Ashley will deliver a promise to spend all of the Carroll transfer money. Kuqi is not the answer but he will be the best Pardew had on offer. And he has a presence and confidence about him, he has experience of the Premier League and he is undoubtedly up for it. You just have to say good luck to the fella. Let's hope we see that daft flying swan celebration. Pardew also hopes to have Ameobi back within a month. The striker flies to the United States this week to be fitted with a specially-made mask, designed by Jeremy Murray who has made more than 500 for NBA players. It's a commendable effort by club and player. Flying visit: Kuqi has been told he won't stay longer than the end of the season Until then, Pardew thinks the incredible lifeline offered to Kuqi might just pay off. He said: `Shefki was in a different situation. He's a player I know, he's honest and he's a gentleman. I've always admired him as a player. I'm not going to go too much into his performances but he gives an honest performance and he's a physical presence. `After Shola's injury and with no big Andy, that's something I felt we needed. It's a great challenge for him to try to rise to and he's pointed that out to me. He's absolutely thrilled to be here and I can understand that. But he's not in awe of it, that's the difference. `He's somebody I don't think too many players here are going to have complaints about. He's a big guy who knows how to handle himself. I knew him coming into the dressing room wouldn't be a problem. Whoever I brought in, he isn't going to be Andy Carroll. `We paid huge sums of money for Peter (Lovenkrands) and Besty so he's never going to challenge them unless he rises to the occasion, comes on the pitch and attacks it. I've just got a sneaky feeling he might just do that, he's got that sort of character.' Kuqi could make his Newcastle debut tomorrow at one of his 12 former clubs, Blackburn Rovers. And you just get the feeling...  Kuqi is no Carroll, admits Pardew as journeyman seals Magpies move ?35m Carroll out, freebie Kuqi in... Newcastle seal deal for veteran striker  Explore more:People: Mike Ashley, Andy Carroll Places: Newcastle, Liverpool, Finland, United Kingdom Organisations: National Basketball Association


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