Chris Hughton has four vacancies left to fill

CHRIS Hughton wants to make four signings before the closure of the January transfer window.

Chris Hughton

CHRIS Hughton wants to make four signings before the closure of the January transfer window.

The Newcastle United boss wants to replace the departing Geremi and either renew loans for the three players he signed on a temporary basis this season or bring in new signings to cover for them.

Hughton let Zurab Khizanishvili and Marlon Harewood return to Blackburn and Aston Villa respectively and is still negotiating with Manchester United over Danny Simpson – although he would like to extend his stay at St James’ Park.

With Geremi still keen to move to Turkish side Ankaragücü that creates four vacancies that Hughton wants to fill sooner rather than later.

“I would like to have the same numbers for the second half of the season,” he said. “But where we are at the moment, I am very very happy with the squad. I do not feel I need to add an awful lot.

“I think the strength of where we are at the moment is that we have been able to stay a tight knit group. So far we have been fortunate with injuries.

“A lot of players have played in a lot of games for us and I think that has been the strength of the team so far.”

With little money to play with United are likely to stick to their policy of bringing in players under the age of 26 with a significant re-sale value.

Although Mike Ashley said that recruitment philosophy would underpin the club’s transfer business when he originally took over, it is an approach that has been applied infrequently in the intervening years. But with the likes of Jermaine Beckford and Matthew Kilgallon being targeted, Hughton is determined to spend his limited budget on players with the potential to improve. “In an ideal scenario I think you’d always like to bring in somebody you can see potential in, whether that’s financial potential or in terms of being a good age.

“That’s always the best scenario, but for me the most important thing is that we have enough players to stay where we are for the rest of the season.

“What you have to do is have an eye on the future, on next season and so on, but the large majority of our thoughts are about this season.”

This is Hughton’s first transfer window since becoming a full-time manager and he admits it is a frantic period. His phone has rung virtually non-stop since the start of the month with some of the names being put to him coming as a “surprise”.

“There’s been a lot of phone calls and there have been a few surprise names,” he admitted. “A lot of players become available who you didn’t think would. It is also a time for agents to do their business.

“They wouldn’t think they were doing their job right if they were not throwing lots of names at you.

“To a degree I had this before, when I was the temporary manager. At the moment we have got players coming from all angles to us.

“This is a time for agents as well, this is their avenue to get information over and of course a lot of info they are giving to me they are giving to 30 or 40 (other) people as well.”

Meanwhile, Hughton will call his players in for an extra training session tomorrow after the Championship game at Reading was postponed.

Although the pitch at the Madejski Stadium was playable, the authorities decided the surrounding area was too dangerous for the game to go ahead.


David Whetstone
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Graeme Whitfield
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