Newcastle United hero Andy Carroll made his long awaited comeback for the club this weekend with a brief but promising cameo in a 0-0 draw with Brighton.
The local forward has been recovering from an ankle injury since joining the club on a free this summer, and was finally deemed fit enough to play earlier in the week.
However the Geordie striker was wisely not rushed straight back into action, and started the match at St James’ Park on the bench.
The home crowd were unsurprisingly desperate to see their man on the pitch from the off though, and cheered and chanted for the returning forward as he warmed up during the match.
And had Carroll not only just returned to fitness, he probably would have been on a lot sooner, as the Toon put in a completely uninspiring performance for most of the match.
Toon fans had to wait until the 82nd minute to see their man once again in a black and white shirt, as Steve Bruce threw on the forward as a last roll of the dice after what had been a drab affair.
The former number nine was given a heroes welcome as he was subbed on for Jetro Willems, and although he could have done no wrong anyway, Carroll surprisingly put in a promising eight minute display.
Carroll vs. Brighton
The summer signing of Carroll was a joyous one, the story of a former local lad returning home to the club where he established himself.
But it was also a signing that brought a lot of scepticism.
Would he ever be fit? Is he the player he once was? Was the signing just a PR stunt?
Admittedly Andy Carroll is not the player he was when he left Newcastle 12 years ago, but against Brighton, he showed he’s not the man made of glass the media makes him out to be either.
Within second of coming on the pitch, Carroll reacted instinctively to a pass played to his feet, swivelling round and playing a magnificent through ball to Allan-Saint Maximin, allowing the winger to bomb forward and have an attempt on goal.
For the previous eighty minutes, the Toon had created almost zero chances.
But the introduction of ASM and Carroll instantly changed the game.
The Englishman also showed on several occasions just how incredible his ball retention and aerial prowess is, the very reasons Chris Hughton built his team around the striker all those years ago.
Shortly after his through ball he helped win a free kick just outside the box after bringing the ball down and shielding off two Brighton players with ease before being fouled.
He then was unlucky not to create an opportunity from a corner, bringing the set piece down and fighting to work an angle to shoot.
But despite not getting a shot off, the Brighton defence still couldn’t tackle him, and he wormed his way out of the box to keep possession.
Carroll was perhaps unlucky not to have scored too, as although there was very few crosses into the box delivered to him, one particularly devilish ball from ASM looked to be certain to fall to him were it not for great defending from Lewis Dunk.
Although he didn’t manage to change the result, he certainly changed the game, and things look promising for the rest of the season.
If he can stay fit, Carroll will undoubtedly become a key figure in this Newcastle United side.