Steve Bruce is hoping Andy Carroll can do enough during the second half of the Premier League season to trigger an extended stay at Newcastle.
The 30-year-old Geordie returned to his first club in August on a highly-incentivised pay-as-you-play deal which is understood to include a clause which will earn him a new contract if he makes a stipulated number of appearances.
Carroll, whose career since he left Newcastle in a £35million switch to Liverpool in January 2011 has been punctuated by a series of injuries, has made a significant impact since being nursed back from a second bout of ankle surgery, and Bruce is hopeful there is more to come.
He said: “I think something triggers, yes, but look, we’d be delighted to tie Andy up. It’s just a case of staying fit, that’s the big thing, and it’s a shame because it has blighted his career, it really has.
“Let’s be fair, he was £35million 10 years ago, so that would probably be £135million today, wouldn’t it?
“So let’s hope he stays well because his influence – I have told you before, just the way he is, you can see people gravitate towards him, who he is, what he is, and he knows what it means to play for this club.”
Carroll arrived back on Tyneside having not kicked a ball in anger since February as a result of an ankle injury which required two bouts of surgery and limited him to just 14 appearances in his final season at West Ham.
However, having been eased back into action by his home-town club, he has played his part in an improved run of results with the Magpies having won six of the 11 league games in which he has figured – he set up Miguel Almiron’s winner against Crystal Palace on Saturday – and only one of the seven in which he was not involved.
Bruce described the decision to offer the striker an initial deal as a “no-brainer” at the time and has seen nothing since to change his opinion.
He said: “It was an easy one. We all saw the value in it. It was a no-brainer, practically a pay-as-you-play deal.
“I’m delighted for him that he has gone on the pitch and had an impact, though he made an impact before that. As soon as he went in the dressing room, you could see people respond to him. He demands. He is a bit old school. It’s good to watch.”
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