Will Andy Carroll's return to Newcastle prove a success or a nightmare?

The 23-year-old striker has not endured the best start with Liverpool since his big money move from the Magpies and Jim Knight previews how he might fare upon his return
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Local boy Andy Carroll will have mixed feelings if he plays on his return to his hometown club Newcastle on Sunday after his dream move to Liverpool has turned into a bit of a nightmare.

The Reds' £35 million signing in the 2011 January transfer window, a record transfer for a British player, has been under the microscope since the day he departed Newcastle for Anfield.

But there is no doubt that it is the Magpies who have gotten the better of the deal so far.

Newcastle, with Carroll's transfer fee in the bank are pushing hard for a European place and are 9/5 with Paddy Power to heap more misery on the visitors whose league form is in freefall since their Carling Cup penalty shoot-out win over Cardiff City last month, their first trophy since 2006.

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While Carroll can rightly point to a Carling Cup medal and an all-Merseyside FA Cup semi-final clash on the horizon, he has hardly led from the front, scoring just three league goals in 25 appearances, many as a substitute.

With a mounting injury crisis at Anfield it’s likely that Carroll will be pitched in at the deep end to try and restore some pride as an urgently needed return to Champions League football disappears out of view.

It’s the last thing his fragile confidence needs in front of the passionate Newcastle fans that once idolised him.

The combative centre-forward could do no wrong as Newcastle secured their Premier League status after coming up as Championship winners two years ago but he has struggled under the burden of expectation that a monster price tag brings.

Carroll knows the best way for him to answer his critics is to put in one of those famed performances for Liverpool that made him such a hero on the St James’ Park terraces and is a 7/1 (8.0) chance to score the opening goal in the game or 23/10 (3.30) to score at any time during it.

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Jim Knight is Betting Editor at Goal.com and has been tipping football games since he was old enough to place a bet. He is a Leicester City fan, writer and member of the We Are Going Up Podcast

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