Club Focus – Newcastle – Campbell unconcerned by lack of action

Sol Campbell has admitted that he is content to be a Newcastle player despite a lack of playing time this season. The veteran defender has been used sporadically under managers Chris Hughton and Alan Pardew with his last start coming against Liverpool back in December. Altogether Campbell has made seven appearances in this campaign, although fitness problems and the form of his positional rivals have limited his action. The former Arsenal and Tottenham player’s contract is set to expire in the summer, yet the club have an option of taking up Campbell for another year. Whether that happens remains to be seen, with Pardew perhaps more interested in bringing in some younger faces to compete with regulars Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson.

Speaking about his time in the North East, Campbell said: “I’ve enjoyed it here. It’s been eventful and there have been ups and downs, but it’s been good. I’m old enough to know you just have to get on with it as a player, and that is what we have done. At the moment, I’m fit. I’ve been okay for a couple of weeks and I’m happy to help out wherever and whenever I can.” The 36-year-old made a rare appearance under Pardew as a late substitute against Birmingham City in the Magpies’ last game, but he may fall even further down the pecking order due to Steven Taylor returning to full fitness. However his return may be delayed as the reserves’ midweek game with Manchester United has been postponed.

Alan Pardew has praised his strike duo of Peter Lovenkrands and Leon Best, highlighting the pair’s work rate as a key asset. Both were on target against Birmingham to silence some of their doubters,and they are likely to continue as a partnership for the next few games with Shola Ameobi still recovering from a cheekbone injury. Best in particular has revelled under the pressure of replacing Andy Carroll with five goals in seven league starts. His manager said: “You can’t argue with their work-rate – it has been phenomenal. That’s all I can ask for as a manager. In some games there haven’t been too many chances created for them. Perhaps at times they haven’t created one or two for themselves, but they work hard.

At the opposite end of the pitch it should be an interesting summer for Newcastle’s trio of goalkeepers. Steve Harper and Tim Krul have shared first team duties this season while highly rated youngster Fraser Forster has been on loan at Scottish giants Celtic. The 22-year-old kept a clean sheet in the weekend’s Old Firm derby and has impressed in his time north of the border. Pardew may choose to cash in on either Krul or Forster as Steve Harper shows no sign of letting his high standards drop. It is a situation most clubs would be envious of, but three into one position does not go, and a difficult decision will need to be made.

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