Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Striker Rivalry Shooting United Closer to Top Flight

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Striker Rivalry Shooting United Closer to Top Flight

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

THE rivalry between Andy Carroll and Peter L[degrees]venkrands is firing Newcastle United ever closer to the Premier League, according to manager Chris Hughton.

Both continued their recent prolific form during Wednesday's routine 3-0 victory at home to Scunthorpe United to move past Kevin Nolan at the top of the Magpies' goalscoring charts.

Carroll has scored 10 goals in his last 12 appearances and L[degrees]venkrands has 12 in 11, including six in his last five. That took both to 14 in all competitions for the season, one ahead of Nolan.

And while Hughton is a firm believer in the team ethic, he is happy to see the "healthy" competition between his two leading strikers to finish as this season's top goalscorer.

"They are spurring each other on and it's something we welcome," he said. "It's very healthy. It's important both are putting in a real shift for the team.

"Andy's overall performance apart from the two goals (on Wednesday) was very good. They are both working hard for the team, which comes first. If you can also score the goals it gives them confidence."

Carroll has been a revelation since January, adding potency to his aerial ability at both ends of the field. Hughton sees it as just reward for the England Under-21 international's efforts, though the bigger test will be transferring his form to the top-flight.

"He's working hard and whatever level that takes him to will be down to the coaching he can get and, more so, to himself," he commented. "We can't fault his application."

Nolan had been United's leading goalscorer for most of the campaign, but the former Bolton Wanderers midfielder has been at pains to point out he has no great interest in finishing top, instead challenging Carroll and L[degrees]venkrands to outscore him.

L[degrees]venkrands is United's biggest concern for tomorrow's game at Bristol City, having been substituted with a muscle injury on Wednesday. …

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