Newcastle United signing Andy Carroll this summer could prove to be the best transfer deals of the season, according to Noel Whelan.

The former Leeds striker and broadcast pundit, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, says that the giant forward has a massive part to play for the Magpies if he can stay fit.

Magpies boss Steve Bruce has used the homegrown hero regularly in recent weeks, admitting he will have to manage the hitman’s game time after a number of injury and fitness issues.

Having watched the 30-year-old play a crucial role in Newcastle’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday, Whelan says the Magpies could have pulled off one of the best bargains all year.

“Carroll’s got such a big part to play in that Newcastle side, it’s just keeping him fit,” Whelan told Football Insider.

“It’s huge, keeping him fit. Having a Carroll that’s firing, starting games, causing problems – he’s going to outjump most defenders, he’s going to outmuscle most centre-halves – he’s going to be massive.

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“Not just in that final third, in the attacking quarter but defensively as well. He’s so commanding in the air, such a big presence up front and he’s going to bring so many players into the game. They’ll only get the best out of Carroll at Newcastle. 

“He could be the best free signing of the season.” 

Carroll has played 11 times for Newcastle since his return to St James’ Park, although he is yet to score his first goal back on Tyneside.

He has a total of 101 appearances for the Magpies under his belt, netting 33 times across all competitions.

In other Newcastle United news, Darren Bent has been left drooling over a “brilliant” decision from Bruce over a first-team star.