Soccer: Gallacher targets flying finish

Newcastle striker Kevin Gallacher is determined to help produce a barnstorming end to a disappointing season to give the black and white faithful hope for the future.

Newcastle striker Kevin Gallacher is determined to help produce a barnstorming end to a disappointing season to give the black and white faithful hope for the future.

The 34-year-old Scot is approaching the end of his current contract with the Magpies and admits he does not know what the next few weeks holds for him.

But he is vowing to help bring a smile to the face of the Tyneside crowds which have flocked to St James’ Park throughout the campaign and have too often left disillusioned.

Bobby Robson’s side take on Southampton tonight having climbed back into the top half of the Premiership table with Saturday’s 1-0 win over Leicester, and with Arsenal and Aston Villa also due to visit before the end of the season, they are determined to end an injury-plagued term with a bang.

The Saints have not scored a single goal since Glenn Hoddle departed for Tottenham, and have collected just one point from the last 15 they have contested, but Gallacher is not counting any chickens.

‘‘Everybody knows what football is like, and you can’t take anything for granted,’’ he said. ‘‘You can be in the middle of a slump and then go and batter somebody 5-0.

‘‘Southampton have had a poor run, but they’ll be determined to put it right sooner than later, and we’ll have to be aware of that.

‘‘We owe our fans a good performance at home. We’ve got 52,000 people there getting right behind us and we don’t want to let them down.

‘‘We have let them down in a few games this year and hopefully, we can repay them with some good home performances from now until the end of the season.’’

United, who led the Premiership table back in September, suffered a major slump after their 3-1 win at Leeds on January 20, but they have put together a run of three games without defeat to arrest the slide and provide the merest hint of a late charge at last season’s points total of 52.

‘‘We went through a difficult time,’’ Gallacher admitted. ‘‘We had a spell over about three months when we were only playing one game every two weeks, and that upset the rhythm of our play.

‘‘But we’ve got back into a regular run of games and we’re getting the benefit now.’’

Gallacher himself has missed much of the campaign through injury, and while he is making no excuses, he knows that the never-ending casualty list has not helped.

‘‘It’s been all season,’’ he said. ‘‘We lost Carl Cort and Nicos Dabizas right at the start and then we’ve lost Alan Shearer, Kieron Dyer and Rob Lee since and they’re not small injuries. They’ve all had operations, and that’s really bad luck.

‘‘Personally, it’s good to be back in. I’ve been training hard to get myself fit and to get to the stage where I would be pushing Shola Ameobi and Carl Cort as well as helping them.

‘‘In the first three months that I was out, it was very frustrating, but then coming back and thinking I was doing well enough but not getting into the side, that was the most frustrating part.

‘‘But I’ve got in now and I’ve just got to try to keep myself in there.’’

Apart from the long-term absentees, midfielder Nolberto Solano completes a two-match ban while defender Andy O’Brien is a slight doubt with a muscle strain.

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