Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Striker Fears for Future

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Striker Fears for Future

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Gilder

Lomana LuaLua last night admitted he is torn between club and country and revealed how he fears the forthcoming African Cup of Nations could put his St James's Park future in jeopardy.

The Newcastle striker could miss up to six weeks of the Magpies' Premiership campaign when he travels to Tunisia next month to spearhead the Democratic Republic of Congo's challenge under new coach Mick Wadsworth.

With Craig Bellamy's rehabilitation from a knee operation set to continue until well into the New Year, LuaLua's long absence will leave Sir Bobby Robson's striking ranks badly depleted at a key stage of the domestic season.

But, although he knows he will be taking a gamble by choosing to participate in African football's showcase event, a deeply-patriotic player insists that the responsibility of captaining Congo in a major tournament is something he simply cannot turn down.

"It's a dilemma, yes," explained the 22-year-old, who has seen Nolberto Solano's club career suffer as a result of his international commitments with Peru in recent months.

"I couldn't ask for any more than to be the captain of my country as a 22-year-old but the timing of the competition makes it difficult. I have been getting one or two chances in the team at Newcastle, the manager has been giving me opportunities but now I have to leave for a while and that doesn't look good on a player.

"It is a worry and it is something I have been thinking about a lot. This (Newcastle) is where I want to be and I do not want to be in the gaffer's bad books. But, at the same time, my country needs me so I will need to talk to him (Robson) about the situation.

"I'm not going over there for a holiday or to enjoy myself, I just want to play football. Hopefully I will be able to gain a lot of useful experience and bring that back to Newcastle with me. …

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