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Campbell feels fighting fit as debut draws close

Sol Campbell says he is now close to making his first-team debut for Newcastle and feels he is now proving those "taking the Mickey" wrong.

Campbell angry over fitness critics

There had been criticism from some Newcastle supporters after an unflattering picture of Campbell appeared during pre-season, but he said at the time that it was unfair to judge so soon after his honeymoon.

He has since appeared for the club's reserve team and, as he closes in on full fitness, he is determined to show the doubters he can still perform at the top level.

Campbell told ESPNsoccernet in an exclusive interview: "I had 60 minutes of good work-out against Liverpool reserves and would think I am ready to step it up to 80 minutes with a game being arranged at St James' Park on Tuesday.

"Yes, I am nearly there and, for all those taking the Mickey out of me, it shows them up for what they are - the truth is I wasn't carrying that much flab in the first place.

"I've trained every day, I've worked hard, and that's the key: hard work. I've never been afraid of hard work but, no matter how much training you do, you need the matches, and given the choice of training or a run out in the reserves, I was quite happy to turn out against a very young Liverpool reserve tram.

"I'm shaping up well enough and keeping my promise that, when the Newcastle fans see me in the first team, they can judge me then."

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