Big Sam rejects fitness claims

Image: Allardyce: Rubbishes claims

Sam Allardyce has issued a riposte at those questioning the fitness of the players during his time at Newcastle.

Former Toon chief not enamoured with Duff 'excuse'

Sam Allardyce has issued a riposte in the direction of those that have questioned the fitness of Newcastle's players during his time at St James' Park. The former Bolton boss lasted just eight-months in one of football's hottest seats and following his departure, criticism has been aired over the physical conditioning of the squad Kevin Keegan inherited. Winger Damien Duff stated last week that fitness at the club had steadily improved under Keegan's regime but Allardyce believes these are hollow claims. Allardyce said: "There wasn't anything wrong with match fitness when I was there. "That's a bit of an excuse. Sometimes fitness is a mental thing.

Mental factor

"The fear factor can drain an awful lot out of players so that may be the problem at the moment. "There is also a lack of confidence and it can boil down to that, not a lack of match fitness." With proverbial 'six-pointers' against Birmingham and Fulham on the horizon, Allardyce believes the next few weeks will determine whether the Magpies retain their top flight status.
Crucial time
"They have experienced and talented players but they must get a result pretty soon," Allardyce continued. "They have Birmingham and Fulham in the next few games and they could be the big matches - the turning point for Kevin and the team." Given the success he achieved at Bolton, Allardyce is unlikely to be out of football for too long and he concedes the management itch may need scratching soon. "I would like to come back, if I had my way, in the summer. "But we'll have to wait and see what turns up."

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