Former Newcastle captain Alan Shearer is tipping Andy Carroll to follow him into the England ranks.
Shearer, who scored 30 goals in 63 appearances for his country, believes Carroll has improved so rapidly since the start of the season he could now be ready to make his mark on the senior international stage amid suggestions Fabio Capello has been given the green light to pick him for next week's friendly against France despite his off-the-field problems.
"A month ago, I would maybe have said it was too early, but he's getting better and better every game," Shearer told the Evening Chronicle. "You can't ignore that but as I say when people were pushing him at the start of the season, it might have been too early. He's still learning and maturing, but the kid is getting better and better."
He added: "He has to put him in sooner or later and I don't think it would be a surprise if he was picked now."
Gateshead-born Carroll is the latest successor to Shearer, a player he watched from the stands as a boyhood Newcastle fan, as the Magpies' number nine, and scored his sixth goal of the season in the club's surprise 1-0 Barclays Premier League win at Arsenal on Sunday.
His form to date since the Magpies' return to the top flight has brought him to Capello's attention, although the baggage he carries with him has done him few favours.
But Shearer, who also made his England debut against France in 1992, has been hugely impressed by his contribution in both attack and defence.
He said: "I have been very impressed with Andy - I don't think you can be anything but impressed. He's had a great start to the season.
"He just needs to keep on doing what he is doing. As [manager] Chris Hughton has said, there will be times when he doesn't score and he might have games that are a bit iffy.
"That's part and parcel of the game but at the minute, he's on a high. He was absolutely awesome at Arsenal on Sunday, he completely bullied the defence and that's great to see."
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