Sol blows away fitness worries - 28/02/2003
Newcastle United's Nolberto Solano put himself in the frame for a starting place against Chelsea tomorrow after coming through an hour of reserve football.
The winger played in last night's 1-0 win over Everton - who themselves had Duncan Ferguson making his first appearance on the way back from a long-term injury - at Kingston Park.
Ferguson's successor at United - Carl Cort - was taken off as a precaution after turning his ankle, while Nicos Dabizas played the full 90 minutes, having asked Sir Bobby Robson if he could play in the fixture to top up his fitness level.
Newcastle's goal came from full-back Joe Kendrick and it handed the Reserves' only their second home win of the season.
Coach Tommy Craig said: "The gaffer thought last night was an ideal opportunity for Nobby to get an hour's football under his belt, maybe with the Chelsea game in mind.
"He's come through fine while Carl Cort's had a bit of an ankle knock. He was taken off purely as a precaution.
"Nicos actually asked to play as he felt he would benefit from the full 90 minutes of football. What an attitude that is and I thought the young players responded to that."
The game marked United's return to Kingston Park, with the second string having started the season at Gateshead International Stadium due to building work at the rugby ground.
And it was Ferguson who had the first chance on his return to the North East, seeing his shot parried by goalkeeper Tony Caig in the third minute.
England Under-19 striker Michael Chopra went close twice before Ferguson's header six minutes before the break found Nick Chadwick, who hit the post with only centre half Steven Taylor on the line to beat.
The Merseysiders' South Shields-born keeper Steve Simonsen saved well from Chopra on the stroke of half time and after the interval Andy Ferrell went close for Newcastle having beaten the visiting goalkeeper to the ball.
United's breakthrough came in the 55th minute, when Kendrick latched on to a square ball from Everton's Anthony Gerrard and lashed a left-foot shot past Simonsen.
Everton's only real effort of the second half came from Ferguson once again, with Caig saving a 20-yard free- kick.
"We've come back to what we consider home and got three good points," said Craig.
"I thought up to the 20- minute mark they shaded it but after that we got hold of the game.
"It was a well contested game and there was a sprinkling of good football."
NEWCASTLE: Caig, Brennan, Kendrick, Taylor, Dabizas, Orr, Solano (Gardner, 61), McClen, Cort (Zola, 51), Chopra (Guy, 84), Ferrell. Subs (not used): Bartlett, Brittain.
EVERTON: Simonsen, Said, Moogan, Gerrard, O'Hanlon, Carsley, Alexandersson, Linderoth, Chadwick, Ferguson, Osman. Subs (not used): Schumacher, Turner, Carney, Southern, Symes, Beck.
Referee: E Ilderton (Whitley Bay).
Solano may be forced to wait
Nobby Solano has declared himself fit to return to the Newcastle United side against Chelsea - but Sir Bobby Robson was keeping his South American winger sweating today.
Solano has not started a game since he limped off at half-time with a thigh problem in the 1-1 draw with Arsenal on February 9.
And after playing 61 minutes in last night's reserves game with Everton, Solano emerged to say: "I am ready to start playing again, although it is all up to the manager."
Robson said: "Nobby played last night as I'm a bit a worried about his fitness and we played him for a hour so that we could boost up his fitness.
"We will see what he is like tomorrow. He might not start - I might start with Brian Kerr and leave Nobby to step up his fitness and Wednesday night might be comeback time for him.
"Kerr is doing all right for us. That's not his best position wide on the right but he is starting to feel more confident."
Even with Laurent Robert suspended and Jermaine Jenas injured, Robson has plenty of alternatives with both Solano and Hugo Viana fit again.
And with some many defenders available, the United boss has the option of switching Olivier Bernard to the left side of midfield.
But Viana is favourite for the left-sided role even though he is not comfortable playing wide.
What is your opinion about this article?
Start a new topic at our forum!