CHRIS Hughton is preparing a wish list of players after hinting Newcastle United could finally join the market to sign players next week.
Speaking before news emerged of a £4m bid for Damien Duff, thought to be from Fulham, Hughton stated United need “two or three” additions and he is getting ready to name names to the board. At present the interim manager’s job description does not extend to transfers but with the deadline for signings fast approaching, he is preparing for that to change.
After a summer in which they have been the only league club in England not to add to their thinning squad, the Magpies are slowly beginning to be linked with players. While Hughton says no moves have been made for the likes of Erik Huseklepp and Tommy Smith, that could soon change.
“The position I’m in at the moment hasn’t changed so much since pre-season,” Hughton admitted. “The nearer we get to the window it will probably become more and more difficult. At this moment, my remit and all my thoughts and efforts have been going very much into training this group of lads and preparing them for games.
“Some of the issues that might arise over the next few weeks haven’t arisen. But I appreciate that the nearer we get to the window, it will get more difficult.”
The transfer window closes on September 1, after which clubs are not allowed to buy players until the new year. Football League sides are, however, allowed loan signings during certain specified periods in between.
Since the end of last season Michael Owen, Mark Viduka, David Edgar, Claudio Caçapa, Peter Lovenkrands, Ignacio González, Mark Donninger, Obafemi Martins, Sebastién Bassong and Habib Beye have all left.
Burnley and Wolverhampton Wanderers were linked with Duff earlier in the summer, but both denied the speculation at the time. The last player to join Newcastle was Ryan Taylor from Wigan Athletic on February 2. Hughton senses discussions about new signings will not be delayed much longer.
“We’ve lost three players (Martins, Bassong and Beye) since the start of pre-season,” he pointed out.
“If I look at the squad we’ve got at the moment, providing we don’t have too many injuries, I’d think we need the additions of two or three to the squad. But that’s keeping all the players we’ve got. At this present moment, we’ve got a squad I think is a very capable squad.
“There’s no doubt if we were to lose players, it would certainly get more difficult and being where we are and what we want to achieve this season, replacements would have to be brought in. I’ve not had a conversation about that yet. All the efforts from the club have been into selling the club and taking it the next step forward. But I certainly do anticipate that possibly, maybe as soon as after this weekend, some talks will have to take place about if any players were to go, the situation that would leave us in.”
Hughton is pleased he has so far been able to concentrate on doing what he does best this pre-season, working on the training field. But he is preparing for the day managing director Derek Llambias asks who he would like to sign. “I think you have to,” he said. “You have to prepare yourself but at this moment (yesterday afternoon) I expect us to have the same squad tomorrow. If that was to change, of course the club has got to make decisions on what it would like to do about replacements.”
Martins has described his move to VfL Wolfsburg as an opportunity to resurrect his career.
“This is a great chance for me to get my career back on track,” he said. “Newcastle United will forever stay in my heart. I gave my all to the club and the fans know that, unfortunately things went awry on and off the pitch.”