NEDUM Onuoha insists a £35million price tag will not faze Andy Carroll if the former Newcastle United striker is given another chance to plague Sunderland.
Carroll, who couldn’t prevent Liverpool crashing out of the Europa League last night, is in contention to make his first Premier League start for his new club in Sunday’s clash with the Black Cats – almost two months since becoming Britain’s most expensive player.
The 22-year-old missed out on making his Stadium of Light bow in January’s Wear-Tyne derby due to a thigh strain which accompanied him to Merseyside.
But he gave Sunderland a torrid time in October’s St James’s Park disaster and Onuoha knows what to expect from the England striker’s aerial threat on Sunday, regardless of how much he cost Liverpool.
The Sunderland right-back told the Echo: “I wouldn’t be surprised if he gives it that little bit extra coming here.
“He’s a handful and everyone knows that.
“His movement is pretty good but you just have to be aware of where he is from any set piece.
“In the Premier League, he is probably one of the best for picking up the flight of the ball.
“Unless you are at your maximum, he’s able to dominate people.
“You find other aggressive strikers but he’s got it down to tee in reading the flight of the ball and if you have that, it’s very difficult for anyone to try to compete.”
Onuoha added: “I don’t think a player thinks about their price tag when they arrive.
“If they manage to do the same things they did at their previous club or anywhere near that, then the chances are that they’ll be worth the money.
H Turn to page 85.
“If Andy Carroll scores five or six goals between now and the end of the season, they’ll start to get the money back they’ve invested in him.
“It is important he starts well, but in the same breath he’s got a long time to fully prove himself. He’s a young player and still developing.
“Liverpool know that themselves which was why they were willing to invest so much money.
“If he was a bit older, there wouldn’t have been the same sort of fee.
“It’s money for potential and he’s got great potential because he’s one of the most talked about strikers out there.”
Onuoha is in contention to start against Liverpool after missing Sunderland’s last two games with a calf strain.
The on-loan Manchester City defender will be charged with harnessing a Liverpool attack much-changed from the one Sunderland faced in September’s 2-2 draw at Anfield with Carroll and fellow January signing Luis Suarez replacing the departed Fernando Torres.
“They’re completely different now with Carroll and Suarez, but I think we’ve got the potential to beat them as long as we play to our maximum,” said Onuoha.
“I think it was a bit of an intent bringing those two in.
“When you talked about Liverpool, everyone just mentioned (Steven) Gerrard and Torres and then in the same breath were saying Torres was not firing as much as he should have been.
“The fact they replaced Torres with Carroll and Suarez showed they weren’t going to miss him.”