Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hughton: Campbell Is as Good Now as Ever; Sol Is as Good Now as He Has Ever Been

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hughton: Campbell Is as Good Now as Ever; Sol Is as Good Now as He Has Ever Been

Article excerpt

Byline: Luke Edwards

SOL Campbell will be given a baptism of fire on his Newcastle United debut against Chelsea tomorrow as Chris Hughton insisted last night that the veteran defender is as good now as he was at any stage in his career.

At 36, Campbell's physical prowess may not be what it was in his international prime with Tottenham Hostpur and Arsenal, but Hughton feels he more than makes up for that with his experience.

Having worked with Campbell when they were at White Hart Lane together, United's manager is convinced he still has several years left at the top level if he decides that is what he wants to do.

"All the things that we already knew about Sol he has demonstrated since being here," said Hughton, who will also give Jonas Gutierrez and Alan Smith a start in the Carling Cup tie at Stamford Bridge after they were dropped to the bench for the 1-0 win at Everton.

"He's a player of very good experience, he's good around the place, good on the training pitch - probably the only disappointment is that we got him as late as we did.

"Up until this moment, he hasn't been up to speed re his fitness. Everything else we've been delighted with.

"What you have at 36 is what you don't have as a younger player and that's experience. The position is a position of experience.

"Would he be as good an athlete as he was when he was a younger? You can ask the same question of any player that plays in any position.

"But what he is, is a player of great experience and the position he plays, that's certainly a plus, more so than a minus, that's for certain. "He's ready and available, yes. It'll be a nice game for the XI that start down there. "I'll have a squad that every single one of them will want to start down there." Hughton's ability to persuade Campbell to sign for Newcastle on a free transfer when there were rival offers for the defender from Sunderland, Celtic and Arsenal, was a feather in his cap over the summer. …

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