Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Robson Hones Plan of Attack

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Robson Hones Plan of Attack

Article excerpt

Byline: By Simon Rushworth

Sir Bobby Robson will use this weekend's enforced break to decide how best to utilise his first-team firepower after controversially resisting the temptation to pair skipper Alan Shearer with Dutch international Patrick Kluivert this summer.

Newcastle's manager appeared to walk away from one row and into another when he withdrew his captain for the third time in three games half-an-hour from the end of Wednesday's friendly against Celtic ( letting pass a final pre-season opportunity to watch his two senior strikers in tandem.

But Robson believes Shearer can have no quarrel with a decision which seemed to dissatisfy the former England international after insisting all four of his front-line goalscorers have been afforded ample opportunity to press their claims for a starting place at Middlesbrough.

"Alan didn't say any choice words to me when he came off at Celtic," responded United's boss when asked to shed light on a reported rift.

"None at all. Why should he? Of the four strikers we have at the club who has played the most football in pre-season? Alan Shearer.

"He's played more minutes than Craig, Patrick and Shola and I'm sure people realise that."

Robson is right to point out that he has started his influential captain in all four of Newcastle's domestic pre-season friendlies and, although not at his Premiership best, a player approaching a final season of top-flight football has done enough to warrant a place at Middlesbrough.

Neither Patrick Kluivert nor Shola Ameobi ( the latter admittedly struggling with a back injury ( have been granted the same opportunities to press their own claims and both can feel more aggrieved that their captain.

However, Shearer's irritation at being withdrawn 15 minutes into the second half of Wednesday's clash may have had more to do with the fact that he has yet to strike up an understanding with Kluivert and less to do with any desperation to play 90 minutes against Celtic. …

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