Newcastle sign Shefki Kuqi as Andy Carroll replacement

Newcasle sign Shefki Kuqi as Andy Carroll replacement
Newcastle sign Shefki Kuqi as Andy Carroll replacement
Newcastle have confirmed the signing of Finland international striker Shefki Kuqi until the end of the season.
By Telegraph staff and agencies 9:44AM GMT 10 Feb 2011

The 34 year-old, who was a free agent after his contract with Championship Swansea was terminated by mutual consent last month, could go straight into the Newcastle United squad for Saturday's Premier League trip to Blackburn, one of his former clubs.

He has been drafted in to provide back-up to strikers Leon Best, Peter Lovenkrands and Nile Ranger following the £35 million departure of Andy Carroll to Liverpool, Xisco's loan move to Deportivo la Coruna and Shola Ameobi's fractured cheekbone.

Manager Alan Pardew said: "We needed another option up front because we are a little light there due to the temporary loss of Shola, and Shefki will provide us with something different.

"He's match-fit and knows the English game well having been in the country for the best part of 10 years. He is ready straight away and that's what we wanted.

"Shefki is a good, honest pro who will give us a strong physical presence from the bench."

Kuqi arrived in England in Jan 2001 when Stockport signed him from FC Jokerit for £300,000, and he has since played for Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich, Blackburn, Crystal Palace and Swansea, along with loan spells at Fulham and Derby either side of a spell in Germany with Koblenz.

He is approaching 500 career appearances and 150 goals, many of them marked with his trademark "bellyflop" celebration.

He said: "I don't really have the words to describe how happy I am. To get this chance is a massive thing for me.

"I am just happy to be here now and I can't wait to start and hopefully try to do the best I can for Newcastle United.

"For me, it is a great opportunity just to be back in the Premier League again. It is something I have tasted before.

"Everybody knows it is the best league in the world and to be part of it and a club the size of Newcastle United, I am really proud. It's an honour to be here."

Kuqi, who will wear the No 42, is seen as a man who will support Pardew's three remaining senior strikers from the bench.

Best and Ranger were withdrawn from international duty this week as they nursed minor injuries in the wake of Saturday's spectacular 4-4 draw with Arsenal.

They and Lovenkrands have been asked to shoulder the burden of scoring the goals to keep Newcastle in the top flight following Carroll's departure.

Ameobi, Best and Lovenkrands have claimed six goals between them in the ensuing six league games, with Newcastle losing just one of them.