Carr motoring towards exit

Stephen Carr's position at St James's Park last night appeared increasingly precarious as Sam Allardyce pursued two players whose arrivals would leave the Irishman facing a bleak first-team future.

Stephen Carr

Stephen Carr's position at St James's Park last night appeared increasingly precarious as Sam Allardyce pursued two players whose arrivals would leave the Irishman facing a bleak first-team future.

A manager whose interest in Olympique Marseille's Habib Beye is established is understood to have opened talks with Geremi, the Cameroon international who, following the expiration of his contract at Chelsea, has been offered to several Premier League clubs this summer.

The Newcastle boss is keen on a player who, although comfortable in various roles, has been deployed almost exclusively at right-back during his career at Stamford Bridge. It is a position in which Beye is also accomplished and one in which Carr (pictured right) specialises.

The 30-year-old faced an uncertain future even before Allardyce's targets became clear - with Nolberto Solano having proved a more than capable full-back last season and the Magpies manager keen to test Kieron Dyer in the role as he experiments with alternative formations.

Should he succeed in his bid to add Beye and Geremi to Newcastle's first-team squad, it would be almost certain to spell the end for Carr's first-team career in the North-East.

The Journal understands that, having decided that the former Tottenham defender will not be a first choice next season, Allardyce is willing to listen to offers for Carr. A player facing a future in the reserves is not expected to resist, and Celtic are understood to be interested.

The United boss is still attempting to find a club willing to end Celestine Babayaro's time on Tyneside. Portuguese sources insist Sporting Lisbon have had a request to sign the African on loan rejected and are considering returning with a bid to sign the former Anderlecht player on a permanent basis. Allardyce will hope it succeeds.

With Carr set to join the Nigerian in departing Tyneside, it seems as though Newcastle could embark on their next Premier League season with new full-backs on both flanks.

Carr did spend time deputising for Babayaro last season, although Allardyce is determined to recruit a specialist left-footer to fill a position that has long been problematic.

Newcastle have been linked with Nicky Shorey, but the England international has opened contract talks with Reading and is expected to remain at the Madejski Stadium.

"Interest from those clubs is flattering," said the in-demand defender, who is also attracting attention from West Ham.

"You never say never, football is a sport where people move around all the time. But I've been happy at Reading for a long time." Having agreed a £3m deal for David Rozehnal - although the transfer has not been confirmed and the 26-year-old has returned to his home in the Czech Republic, an announcement is said to be imminent - Allardyce is keen to continue his defensive restructuring work.

A deal for Beye is being negotiated, while discussions have been held with Geremi's representatives. The African has also been offered to Sunderland and Middlesbrough this summer - although Newcastle are understood to be in the driving seat for a player who is a free agent.

Like Beye, the African is a versatile player - a factor that appeals to Allardyce. But, although Geremi can fulfil several roles, a manager well served for defensive midfielders does not need another and with James Milner and Solano expected to contest the club's right-wing role, it seems the former Real Madrid man would have the most to offer in the right-back berth.

Meanwhile, Mark Viduka has cast further doubt on Michael Owen's future at St James's Park after admitting he is unsure whether he will partner the England international next season.

"I'm not sure if Michael is staying," said the Australian, who, despite the striker's uncertain situation, is relishing his first season as a Newcastle player following his move from Middlesbrough.

"What's happening at Newcastle is exciting. We have got new owners and it looks very promising. West Ham was tempting but in the end, I chose Newcastle."

* THE League Managers' Association have hit out at the Quest Report for "casting aspersions" over the conduct of certain managers - including Sam Allardyce - without giving them any "proper opportunity" to reply to the allegations.

A statement from the LMA said they are concerned managers under the spotlight did not have the chance to offer their comments regarding allegations in the report which "may damage our members' reputations."

The LMA said: "In the light of recent media speculation, the LMA wishes to express its serious misgivings over the process of the Quest Report.

"The final Quest Report stated clearly that there is no evidence or suggestion of any irregular payments to club officials or managers and that there had been full co-operation from our members.

"However, we are concerned that the final report then proceeded to try and single out and cast aspersions over the conduct over a number of managers without any consultation about this or proper opportunity for them to reply.

"We cannot understand why none of the managers were contacted first to seek their comments on the further findings."


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer