NEWCASTLE chief Glenn Roeder believes Irish international right-back Stephen Carr is playing the best football of his career.
Roeder said: "He’s been on fire this season. I bet he hasn’t been in as good form as this in his career.
"There are a few players who have the respect of the whole dressing room here — and Stephen is one of them.
"If he stays fit we have a heck of a player on our hands and I cannot state how important he is to us.’’
Carr’s absence from the Republic of Ireland squad is not expected to keep him out of Newcastle’s home game against Bolton on Sunday.
Carr withdrew from Steve Staunton’s party for the 5-2 defeat in Cyprus and Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with the Czech Republic in Dublin due to a hamstring injury.
But Roeder said: "Carrsy has been doing well this week and is on course for Bolton.
"We have been playing near enough two games a week since the start of the season and he has a problem just at the top of his hamstring.
"Unfortunately, that meant he was not able to join up with the Irish squad, which was a big shame for him," Roeder said.
Carr has been working on his fitness with Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given, who is still recovering from surgery for the ruptured bowel he suffered in Newcastle’s win at West Ham almost a month ago, and long-term injury victim Michael Owen.
Roeder added: "Stephen will continue getting treatment, but hopefully he’ll be OK for Sunday."