Press article:

We have to be strong - 13/01/2006

We have to be strong
A game he'll be looking forward to

Nobby Solano heads for West London tomorrow looking for his 50th goal in English football and claiming the match with Fulham is a game Newcastle United "must win."

The popular little Peruvian's goal against Middlesbrough on January 2 was his 40th for United to go with the nine he bagged for Aston Villa, leaving him just one short of a half-century since he left South America for Tyneside in 1998.

And while all eyes will be on Alan Shearer, who could become the outright greatest scorer in the history of Newcastle United, Solano hopes to nip in unnoticed and chalk up goal No 50.

Actually Solano - like Shearer he scored his first goal for the club at home to Wimbledon - is second only to his 200-goal skipper as far as goals are concerned in United's current squad.

Now Nobby, who with Shearer and keeper Shay Given is considered as a senior professional at St James' Park, wants his United colleagues to stand up and be counted in tomorrow's game at Craven Cottage.

United have not won any of their last three Premiership matches, and qualifying for Europe next season through the Premiership is not looking on at the moment.

Before flying down to London, Solano said today: "We have to be mentally strong now. Everyone in this team is trying to finish in the top six and the pressure is on all of us, and not just the manager.

"Everyone's talking about the manager, but you can see the problems we have at the moment.

"We've got too many injuries, and the manager's never had a settled team. All the time players are coming back from injury, or getting injured.

"The players have to take the criticism as well, and put things right on the pitch. The manager just tries to put the best players on the pitch.

"We have to be strong, play better and hope everyone comes back from injury.

"Hopefully everyone can get back, and then we'll see how we finish this season. But for now we have to forget about the players we're missing, and every player who is given a chance must do their best."

In a phrase favoured by Graeme Souness, Fulham will be like "wounded animals and dangerous" against United following their embarrassing FA Cup home defeat by their lowly London neighbours Leyton Orient in the third round of the FA Cup at Craven Cottage.

But as Lee Clark has already stressed this week, Fulham have a good home Premiership record this season, winning six of their 10 games.

But Solano believes tomorrow's game is more about United than their opponents, adding: "For a small club Fulham have been holding their own in the Premiership for a long time, and we know they can play good football.

"But we can't worry about them. We need to improve as a team. We need to win if we're going to qualify for Europe next season.

"We need a good run of five or six wins - that would be fantastic for us. Only by going on a run can we climb the table, and we have to win tomorrow."

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