SHEAR CLASS; TYNESIDE REJOICING AT DISCOVERY OF ANOTHER SUPERB STRIKER.
ALAN SHEARER has praised new Newcastle hero Andy Carroll for having the "guts" to wear the club's legendary No.9 shirt.
Former Toon and England star Shearer watched as a fan from his box at St James' Park as Carroll scored a hat-trick in the 6-0 mauling of Aston Villa on Sunday.
And Shearer, the club's record goalscorer, is confident that Carroll has the bottle to prove himself this season.
The England legend said: "There have been some big, big names who have worn the shirt and some great players. I'm not talking about myself. I'm talking about the likes of Milburn, Macdonald and Ferdinand.
"But he has got a chance now.
He is confident and wants to be given that chance."
Asked if Carroll had "come of age", Shearer, who scored a record 206 times for the club, joked: "I will tell you in 10 years when he has scored 207 goals.
"No, course he has. I was delighted he had the guts the take the No.9 shirt, which no one wore last season because we know that players over the years have shied away from it. It is a big responsibility."
And Carroll has vowed to handle the pressure after describing his hat-trick as a dream come true after spending his childhood watching his hero Shearer from the stands.
Carroll has put thoughts of an England career on the backburner while he gains top flight experience with Newcastle but says he can cope with anything the game throws at him.
The 21-year-old, who scored 20 in the Championship last season, said: "I don't see why I can't carry on that form. Last time we were in the Premier League I started five games and scored three goals, which is a all-right return.
"So if I can get a ratio somewhere near that this term then I'll be happy. I just want the chance to keep showing what I can do. There is a lot of pressure that comes with being Newcastle's No.9, but I don't think about it.
"When I was younger I looked up to Alan Shearer. He was just such a great player and I used to sit in the stands and watch him and wish that one day I would be in his shoes and in his shirt - the No.9. "Now I have got it, it's a great feeling. It could be any number really. As much as it is a great honour to get it, it doesn't matter about the number.
"This is where I want to play my football and score goals. I'll just see what happens with England. Newcastle's my No.1 priority.
"To go out there, wear No.9 and get a hat-trick in the Premier League has to be what it's all about, it was just a fantastic feeling.
"That's all I could have wished for, especially after just getting promoted and playing against a top-six team. It was just a great day for everyone, for the team." Shearer, meanwhile, wants another crack at management and is prepared to take a job outside the Premier League.
The Match of the Day pundit was in charge at Newcastle for eight games, but couldn't save them from relegation 15 months ago.
Since then the right job offer has not come along and he is happy to continue as a BBC pundit until he is handed a fresh chance.
He said: "My emotions haven't changed. I would do it again tomorrow if I could.
"Not necessarily here at Newcastle but I would certainly do it again given the right people to work with, the right football club and the finances to spend.
"I thoroughly enjoyed my time there despite what happened. I loved the challenges. But you have to be given a chance in the game and in particular in your first one it has to be right.
"If the right one came along I'd do it tomorrow. But there must be 300 or 400 people looking for that right one.
"You need the chance to work with decent people and a club with ambition that wants to go places - and that is not necessarily in the Premier League."
TALE OF THE TAPE
Shearer v Carroll
FINISHING POWER SHEARER:
Banged in 206 goals for Newcastle, 30 in 63 games for England and an amazing 283 in 559 club appearances.
Was told to add goals to his game last season and banged in 20 in the Championship.
SHEARER: Not a giant but always knew how to out-muscle a defender to win flick-ons and score.
CARROLL: Matches Shearer in the air. At 6ft 4in, he towers above even the biggest defenders.
Hard to wind up on the pitch as Roy Keane found out, taking a swing at him only to be met with an icy glare of contempt. Rarely got into trouble off the pitch, bar decking Keith Gillespie.
No real trouble with refs, but off the pitch has his problems. Faces court in October accused of a nightclub assault, had a fracas with team-mate Steven Taylor and a training ground battle with Charles N'Zogbia.
GEORDIE BLOODLINE SHEARER:
Famously said he was "just a sheet-metalworker's son", brought up in Gosforth. Strong accent toned down for TV.
Beyond reproach. Born awa-the-wata in Gateshead and St James' Park season ticket holder as a kid.
OTHER GREAT TOON No.9S
(1943-1957: 353 apps, 200 goals) Wor Jackie was born in Ashington and was Black and White through and through. Started his career as a winger but a lucky break in 1947 saw him move to centre-forward. Three FA Cups were won and he became the first Toon player to reach 200 career goals.
(1971-1976: 187 apps, 95 goals)
After some blistering form for Luton Town, Supermac got his big move to the North East in the summer of 1971 for pounds 180,000.
He scored a hat-trick against Liverpool on his debut to become an instant terrace idol and was the club's leading scorer for five seasons in a row.
(1993-1995: 84 apps, 68 goals)
Signed for a then club-record pounds 17.5million but soon silenced his doubters and became the first Newcastle player to score over 40 goals in one season, netting 41 times in 45 appearances. After that he was hampered by injury and was sold to Manchester United.
(1995-1997: 83 apps, 50 goals)
Big Les struck up one of the mostdaun tings trike partnerships in Premiership history when he signed from QPR for pounds 6million in the summer of 1995. He linked up with Alan Shearer and they scored the goals that took Newcastle to consecutive runners-up spots.
UNITED IN JOY Andy Carroll (left) helps Kevin Nolan celebrate MASTER & APPRENTICE Andy Carroll has learned a lot from the great Alan Shearer