Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll

By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter


It will be a case of friends reunited on Sunday at St. James' Park, as Newcastle entertain West Ham United in the Barclays Premier League (3pm kick-off).

Links between the two clubs are numerous, starting with the two managers - Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce - who have both sat in the opposing hotseat earlier in their careers.

Add in the likes of Kevin Nolan - making his first return to Tyneside since his departure in the summer of 2011 - Andy Carroll and Demba Ba, and you have a fixture laced with undercurrents.

Pardew has been impressed with the Hammers' start to life back in the top flight, and knows his current employers are in for a battle this weekend.

"They've probably got a points total that most people wouldn't have expected, but I look at them and they have got good confidence at the minute," said Newcastle's boss.

"Their tails are up and therefore they are playing good football.

"They have good players who I know well - Kevin Nolan, Andy Carroll, Yossi Benayoun, George McCartney, James Collins, Mark Noble, they've all played for me. So I know them well and they are good, good players.

 "West Ham invested well, I thought. The free transfers they took were very good and spent the best part of £20million, so have invested heavily in the group with good players.

"The loan signing of Andy Carroll topped that and he brings everything they want in the style they play.

"They put a lot of balls in your box, there's a lot of knock-downs and with Kevin around he is always going to come up with goals."

 Carroll has impressed in the claret and blue shirt following his loan switch from Liverpool, but is yet to find the back of the net for West Ham.

However, Pardew admitted: "I'm a big fan of Andy's.

"He's brilliant as a centre-forward. You could call it an old-style centre-forward, but I don't agree with that.

"I think there is a place for him with England, I think there is a place for him in a good side and he has proven that."

And he had similar praise when it came to Nolan, the man who captained Pardew's Newcastle when the 51-year-old first arrived in the North-East.

"Kevin brings a spirit, determination and knowledge to a group that few players can do," he explained.

"Not only that, he is a fantastic finisher and is someone we have to watch very closely on Sunday.

"He did brilliantly for this football club and this city, so we will be pleased to see him back."