CHRIS Hughton hopes that Newcastle United manage to keep hold of defender Steven Taylor – and does not believe that his exit is imminent.
The former England under-21 international has been heavily linked with Everton over recent days, with David Moyes considering Taylor as a replacement for Manchester City-bound Joleon Lescott.
Some observers have claimed that Taylor’s reaction at the final whistle of Saturday’s emphatic victory over Reading looked like a farewell gesture to supporters – a belief that has been advanced by claims that he has handed in a transfer request.
Hughton says that is not the case, and says that he has heard nothing from the board to suggest the player will be leaving in the near future. “He is very much still Newcastle’s player and he is desperate to get on with things and do well for the team,” said Hughton. “As far as I know, he is still at the club at the moment. Whether anything has happened that I don’t know about is a different matter but I’m pretty sure he’ll be playing on Wednesday.
“Him asking to leave or leaving is not something that I’m aware of. I haven’t been told by anyone that there has been a bid and I’m sure that I would be informed by someone if anything like that had happened. Obviously, he’s a good player and Steven has been playing well. He is obviously someone who is very important to the team.”
One player who will be leaving United is Damien Duff – and Hughton admits he is disappointed to see the winger leave.
Duff completed a successful medical at Craven Cottage yesterday and will be officially unveiled as a Fulham player today in a deal worth around £4m. Reports in Ireland suggest that the winger has taken a pay cut of 30% to make the deal happen.
He is the ninth player to leave Newcastle since relegation last season – with only one new addition in the shape of Manchester United defender Danny Simpson.
“I’m sad to see him go. As an individual, he’s a smashing lad and he always gives his all. He’s a very polite lad, a very hard working lad,” he said.
“I don’t know if he’d look back on his Newcastle career with a tinge of regret. In the period of time I’ve been here, he’s had his injuries. The last pre-season he did was his first in three years. He was always one if he was ever injured he found it difficult because he just wanted to play. I think if he ends up going, it’ll be because of a new challenge and the Premier League but I can’t fault his application or attitude here.
“With my Irish hat on, I think he’s an important player for the national team, if you said to me would I rather him be at Fulham or Newcastle, I’d say Newcastle.”
Meanwhile, Hughton says that the club have had no contact with Peter Lovenkrands – although he did not rule out re-signing him if he gets the green light from the United board. The Danish winger, currently training with Rangers, is looking for a club and has previously spoken of his desire to re-join Newcastle.
“I can understand why people are mentioning Peter because I thought he did particularly well when he joined us last season,” Hughton said.
“He is one of a few names that have been mentioned but until we get the green light, then we’ll continue to work day-to-day with what we have got.”