x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Campbell lashes out at 'fat belly' jibes from fans

The Newcastle newcomer has branded criticism of his physical condition as "pathetic" and vowed he will be back to peak fitness "in three or four weeks".

The Newcastle newcomer Sol Campbell has branded criticism of his physical condition as "pathetic" and vowed he will be back to peak fitness "in three or four weeks". The 35-year-old former England centre-back was labelled "fat belly" on message boards by Magpies supporters after the publication of a less-than-flattering training photograph over the weekend. "It's pathetic," Campbell told Soccernet. "I had been training for three days, just three days. I am three weeks behind everyone else in pre-season. Don't they know I have just got married and been on honeymoon?

"I accept that the picture wasn't flattering, and I do need to catch up on my level of fitness, but the training kit was not very flattering and showed up all sorts of things. "I am a naturally big guy, but I cannot rush my conditioning, otherwise trying too much too quickly could result in injuries. I really need three to four weeks to get back to peak fitness. "I've seen it all before, done it all before, heard it all before, but that means I also know exactly what to do. It's a long season and I cannot listen to idiots.

"My message is simple to all the knockers: I am knuckling down and want to play my football with a great club and a great manager. Then you can judge me." Meanwhile, Manchester United's Anderson is expected to return to the city this week after escaping with only minor injuries from a horrific car crash in Portugal. The Brazilian midfielder, 22, was pulled out of the wreckage of his Audi 8 sports car shortly before it burst into flames after hitting a wall in the early hours of Saturday. He is recovering from a ruptured cruciate ligament that he suffered in February.

* PA