Could West Ham skipper Kevin Nolan's 100th goal condemn Newcastle to the drop?

Kevin Nolan

Amid all the talk of the possibility of West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce coming back to haunt his old club Newcastle United, a worse irony lurks.

Much has been made of Allardyce's return to St James' Park for Sunday's relegation decider.

Newcastle know they must beat the Hammers to stay up, with Hull City needing a victory over Manchester United to stand any chance of pouncing on a slip-up on Tyneside.

'Allardyce could send club that sacked him down' read the headlines once the race for survival was confirmed as a final day affair.

But a much worse irony could be lurking in the shape of Hammers skipper Kevin Nolan.

So often a hero during his spells at both clubs, Nolan ended up with 29 goals in 85 matches for the Geordies before moving to West Ham for £5million in 2011 - per the BBC.

His leadership and goals in East London have helped the club re-establish itself as a Premier League force, with the former Bolton Wanderers midfielder scoring 30 times in 136 games for the Hammers.

What many people may not realise, though, is Nolan is agonisingly - and perilously for Newcastle - close to a Premier League record.

After one of his worst ever seasons, during which he has scored just once, the 32-year-old has been stuck on 99 Premier League goals since helping the Irons beat West Bromwich Albion on December 2 last year.

It is the longest Nolan has gone without scoring in the top-flight, and has led to him falling out of favour with both manager and fans.

Now his 100th goal could be the one which sends his old club down, should he make the Hammers squad for the crucial match.

Only 24 players have scored 100 goals or more in Premier League history, and Nolan has already talked about how desperate he is to be number 25.

Speaking about his pursuit of reaching a century, Nolan told West Ham's official website last month: "I’m hoping that the next chance goes in.

"It’s starting to become a bit of a burden as people are starting to mention it a bit more.

"I’ve just got to keep working hard and hopefully something will fall for me. Hopefully one will go in off my backside or something!”

No matter how poor his form has been this season, and whether you believe in fate or not, one name Magpies fans won't want to see on the teamsheet come Sunday is Nolan.

He is due a goal and it could be a career-defining one at that.

Register for NEWCASTLE UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch