Andy Carroll v Cardiff

By Craig Hope

ANDY Carroll took his tally for the season to eight with a double against Cardiff City on Friday night, but all the post-match talk was of the number nine - and whether the Geordie striker has the potential to one day wear the club's most cherished jersey.

Manager Chris Hughton had in the build up to the game challenged his forward men to earn the right to inherit the legendary shirt, previously donned with distinction by the likes of Alan Shearer, Andy Cole and Malcolm Macdonald.

And, following a performance packed with power, aerial supremacy and, perhaps most importantly, goals, the question was put to boss Hughton of Carroll's No.9 credentials.

"Potentially, he is number nine material. He's a player who leads the line," said the gaffer following the 5-1 success.

"In some ways, he's an old-fashioned centre-forward who has a prowess in the air, but he's still developing his game and he has to continue to develop it.

"He has good football skills for a big man, but what he has to add to his game is goals, and he was able to do that against Cardiff.

"It's not the first time we have seen it - but it was probably a little bit more prevalent because we got the goals on top of it.

"But he is capable of that performance and what he is now is part of a group of centre-forwards who need to apply pressure on themselves to perform and get into this team."