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Press article:

Solano eager to show his colours - 21/12/2002

   Sir Bobby Robson
   Newcastle United

Nolberto Solano is ready for a key role in Newcastle's hectic festive programme after reacting angrily to the suggestion he didn't want to play in last weekend's clash with Southampton. The Peruvian refused an injection on his badly bruised toe last Friday and instead sat out United's battling 1-1 draw at St Mary's Stadium, incurring the wrath of his frustrated manager in the process. However, Solano has informed Sir Bobby Robson he is fully fit ahead of today's clash with Fulham and believes he was right to rest an injury which had shown no signs of improvement over three agonising weeks.

"I want to play every game, every week and the gaffer knows that," explained the talented right winger. "I am not the sort of player who looks for an excuse to miss a match and you cannot afford to when you play for a club like Newcastle. It's wrong to suggest I didn't want to play against Southampton - my record for United speaks for itself. I want to play every single game but I want to be 100pc when I do. Otherwise I will only let the supporters down." Solano started 37 of last season's 38 Premiership games and weighed in with an impressive seven league goals. It was the South American's inspired Intertoto Cup performances which took Newcastle to the brink of qualification for last season's Uefa Cup and he remains one of the most sought-after players in Europe.

Although Robson has rotated Solano at home and abroad this season there is no doubt the former Boca Juniors man remains one of the most popular players at St James's Park and, despite a dip in form last month, he is enjoying another first-class campaign. "I think the fact that I have injured my toe means people do not take the injury seriously," added a player who gave up international football to commit his future to the Magpies. "It may not be a hamstring or a calf injury but it is the little toe on my right foot and it limits what I can do. "I told the manager after the Barcelona game that it wasn't getting any better, but I didn't want to miss training this week. I would rather miss a game and be ready to train with my team-mates than play below par and be forced to sit out a week of important tactical work. "The rest did me the world of good and by Thursday I was back in full training. The toe looks better than it has done for some time and it looks like I'm over the worst."

Solano and Robson harbour a mutual respect, but two of the strongest personalities at Newcastle have been known to cross swords over the years and United's boss was clearly unhappy that his experienced midfielder missed the trip to Southampton. It would appear that the pair have buried the hatchet on their latest spat, but that may not be enough to save Solano from a place on the bench against Fulham. Robson is a huge fan of England Under-21 international Jermaine Jenas and, although the former Nottingham Forest midfielder is not at home on the right flank, he could well face the Cottagers ahead of his Peruvian colleague.

Newcastle Journal

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