Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Magpies to Unveil Kuqi Deal; Free Signing Expected Today: MAGPIES ARE SET TO SEAL SIGNING OF STRIKER KUQI

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Magpies to Unveil Kuqi Deal; Free Signing Expected Today: MAGPIES ARE SET TO SEAL SIGNING OF STRIKER KUQI

Article excerpt

Byline: STUART RAYNER

NEWCASTLE United are today expected to unveil their stop-gap replacement for Andy Carroll, but Shefki Kuqi's imminent arrival does not mean Pardew will be any less demanding of Leon Best and Nile Ranger, writes STUART RAYNER.

The Journal understands the much-travelled Finnish international was on Tyneside last night undergoing a medical, and barring any hitches his signing is expected to be announced this morning.

It will ease the burden on Best and Ranger, but not the expectations from the manager's office.

Andy Carroll's pounds 35m departure last week was compounded by Shola Ameobi's depressed cheekbone in the next game, and led to a desperate scramble through the list of free agents. It also put extra responsibility on Best and Ranger.

Republic of Ireland striker Best scored in Saturday's thrilling 4-4 draw with Arsenal, only the second Premier League match he has netted in. Since Pardew took charge in December the 24-year-old has gone from fifth choice to leading the line, a job Pardew says he must grow into as quickly as possible.

"Leon could have had two goals in the end against Arsenal and the thing I like about him is he keeps going," said his manager. "That is what he is all about. He is a strong character and he is not embarrassed by the shirt.

"It is a tough job he is being asked to do, leading the line for Newcastle United, but he has taken it on and we hope he grows into the role. He didn't have the best of first halves (against Arsenal), but he kept going, that is what we want from him. "If he can improve and grow in confidence, we are only going to be better for it." Best is expected to be fit for Saturday's trip to Blackburn, despite the injury which saw him withdraw from midweek international duty. Pardew believes 19-year-old Ranger - yet to score in the Premier League - is most effective from the bench. "Nile's two best performances have been when he has come on as a substitute for the last 20 minutes against Liverpool and Arsenal, attacking down that end of the pitch (towards the Gallowgate)," said Pardew. …

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