Andy Carroll has told to keep beating up defenders – as Steve Bruce backed his sharp-elbowed striker.
The Newcastle star walked a fine line against West Ham, adding “physicality” to the Geordies but also earning a booking and sparking a debate over his aerial challenges.
Carroll has lost 5kg in bodyweight and not missed training for months.
And his fight back to fitness has handed Bruce a new weapon to unleash in selected games.
He has been as vital defending his own penalty box as attacking the opposition and could forge a strong partnership with new signing Callum Wilson.
Referees review the footage from weekend games and are likely to discuss Carroll’s high arm challenges as part of their weekly training.
But Bruce said: “Unfortunately as my face will tell you, if you are going to head it you are going to get bashed around a bit. It is normal.
“It seems to be now if you go for a challenge and a header and there is contact on your face it is going to happen and will happen as long as heading the ball is in the rules.
“We need the physicality of Andy.
“It is what he is all about and one of the reasons he is in the team.
“Andy did it well. With no fans we head every bit of contact, every moan and groan a player makes! Andy was terrific.
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“We want to see THE Andy Carroll. Andy of old. Fit, well, a presence. When he plays like that we all know how good he is.”
“When you are jumping for a ball your arms go up. It is normal. Look at a high jumper, they jump and their arms are above their head. Same in football.
“It is impossible to jump with your arms by your sides.”
Newcastle are targeting a long run in the Carabao Cup and will hand new signing Ryan Fraser his debut against Blackburn.
“Ryan will add pace, power and can be electrifying. We also have Joelinton, Miguel Almiron, Matt Ritchie and Sean Longstaff will also play and were sat behind be on the bench on Saturday.
“We will take it seriously but the competition this year is intense.
“I have a squad, seven behind me who could play in the team last year. I will make changes but we will still try to get through.”
Yoshi Muto is joining Eibar in Spain on a season long loan.
Bruce has called on his fringe players to leave or be in a “dark place.”
He said: “We have 28 players and that is not healthy. I can only name 22 in 3 weeks. Two or three I have had chats with.
“A footballer not involved in the 22, is a dark place to be.”
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