STEVE BRUCE is ready to unleash Andy Carroll today — now the striker has the right size SCREWS in his ankle.
Newcastle boss Bruce claimed the big striker had to undergo a second ankle op was because the bolts put in the first time were not big enough.
But now Carroll is fit to make his second Toon debut against Brighton — almost nine years after the first — with instructions to recreate what Bruce calls his own ‘darkest hour’ in football.
Bruce said: “He’s put the hours in to get to where he is now and just deserves a break.
“When you hear what’s happened to his ankle – the screws weren’t big enough, the operation wasn’t a success – to have to go through and do it again.
“Mentally, he’s tough as they come. Having Andy back will change things for us.”
Bruce is keen for the 30-year-old to take his frustration out on Premier League defences and recalls the barn-storming display which helped beat his Sunderland 5-1 at St James’ Park in 2010.
He said: “Andy was unplayable that day, it was my darkest hour in football. He bullied us from start to finish.
“When he’s like that, he’s as good as you get among the big, powerful number nines. If we see a glimpse of that it will be worth the wait.
“We all know if he stays fit he’s a wonderful centre-forward. I played against the likes of Duncan Ferguson and Cyrille Regis, and he’s like they were, a bit old-school.
“Of his type, I don’t think there’s been anybody better than him in the last 10 years.”
Carroll left St James Park for Liverpool in a British record £35m deal in 2011.
He rejoined in the summer on a pay-a-you-play deal after being released by West Ham and hasn’t featured in the Premier League since February, scoring the most recent of his 53 top flight goals came in April 2018.
Bruce hopes Carroll can produce 20 minutes of mayhem from the bench as the Geordies hope to climb out of the Premier League’s bottom three after netting four times in five games.
Bruce added: “The gloves have been off on the training ground this week and it didn’t take him long to get stuck in.
“The other lads were soon aware he was out there and he’d unsettle anyone with the way he rampages about. He’s wanted to get out there because he decided that there’s no more time to be wrapped in cotton wool.
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“Can we get him through 20 minutes, half an hour? Let’s see how his ankle is, because he has done everything he can.”
Bruce refused to be drawn on Peter Beardsley — the disgraced Toon legend who has been banned from football for eight months for racially abusing kids at the club’s academy.
The Toon boss added: “It’s before my time here. I don’t know enough about it, but it’s been a very difficult time.”