Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Solano's out but Darren Is Aiming to Fill the Gap

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Solano's out but Darren Is Aiming to Fill the Gap

Article excerpt

Byline: By Luke Edwards

The shock departure of Nolberto Solano last season cast a shadow over St James's Park, but Darren Ambrose has stepped out of the darkness. Luke Edwards reports.

When a popular player like Nolberto Solano is controversially sold it is the manager who takes the brunt of the flak. But as Sir Bobby Robson ( not for the first time in his distinguished career ( donned his hard hat, there were other, more innocent bystanders caught up in the explosion.

Darren Ambrose had been bought on the cheap from a debt-ravaged Ipswich Town just 10 months earlier as an 18-year-old bursting with potential, but severely lacking in top-flight experience.

A niggling ankle injury confined him to just one Premiership appearance that season, as a second-half substitute in the final game at the season at West Bromwich Albion.

When Lee Bowyer arrived that summer the Harlow-born youngster's chances looked, on the face of things at least, as though they were going to be even fewer and far between.

And so it proved with the substitute's bench and reserve team football proving to be his main Newcastle diet.

But the England international was still catching the eye of an ever-watchful Robson and with Solano pushing for a move and with Aston Villa waiting with open arms the decision to sell ( arguably the most controversial since Andy Cole left for Manchester United in 1995 ( was made.

According to Robson, Newcastle had already got the best years from a player who wanted to leave. To further placate angry fans, Robson also insisted that, in Ambrose, Newcastle had the ideal replacement.

Trying to replace a fan's favourite is a thankless task. Those still mourning the loss of their hero are quick to direct their anger at the man who has stepped into his boots.

It was against this undesirable backdrop that Ambrose took his first real steps as a first team player. "A lot was made of the fact I had the difficult job of replacing Nolberto Solano last season," reflects the England Under-21 international, whose last-minute equaliser against Southampton in the penultimate game of the campaign meant the Magpies only needed a point against Liverpool on the final day of the season to qualify for the Uefa Cup. …

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