CHRIS Hughton says he remains “hopeful” that Steven Taylor’s shoulder injury will not rule him out of the start of the Premier League season – but admits it is serious enough to rule him out of Saturday’s trip to Norwich.
The injury-jinxed defender was forced off in the first game of United’s pre-season campaign at Carlisle amid fears he had suffered a recurrence of the dislocated shoulder that ruled him out for four months in 2006.
Taylor has had X-rays on the shoulder and Hughton admits that he faces a spell on the sidelines, beginning with Saturday’s pre-season clash at Carrow Road.
Any long-term injury for Taylor would be a major blow for both the player and United, who may have to dip into the transfer market to secure defensive cover with young defender Tamas Kadar also on the injured list.
Newcastle have held talks with Sol Campbell but Hughton told The Journal that no agreement was in the offing.
“Hopefully it is not too long out for Steven but we want to assess it properly first and then clarify the situation,” the manager said.
“He will definitely be out of the Norwich game and it could be a few more weeks after that but we’re still assessing it, and we’re hoping to have more information by the end of the week.
“It’s normal that people will be worried as he has had an injury there before, but we don’t want to pre-empt anything by speculating how long he will be out for.
“Steven is desperate to play games because it was a really difficult time for him at the end of last season.
“I think he just wants to play games again so we’ve all got our fingers crossed for him.” On a busy day of transfer speculation, United were linked with a spectacular swoop for Real Madrid striker Raul, Scunthorpe forward Gary Hooper, Benjani and Marseille schemer Hatem Ben Arfa.
But Hughton poured cold water on every single one of those links.
United are in the market for a striker, a defender and midfielder reinforcements, but while admitting that he is a fan of France international Ben Arfa, Hughton insisted that none of those players would be coming to St James’ Park.
He also rejected claims that Benjani, who spent the end of the season at Sunderland, had been training with United. “It’s natural that we get linked with players but none of those names are accurate,” he said.
“Raul would have to take a huge pay cut to come here – I don’t think he’s going to do that!
“The Benjani rumour is just wrong – he hasn’t been training with us and there is nothing in the Gary Hooper rumour either.
“I read about Ben Arfa. He is a cracking player and it’s nice to see us linked with him, but there has been absolutely no contact there whatsoever.”
On Campbell, he said the club have not stepped up their interest after a weekend of claims and counter claims about the player moving to Newcastle.
Reports in London yesterday seemed to suggest the defender was waiting to re-sign for Arsenal and while Hughton has spoken to the former England man, it appears unlikely that he will be signing for Newcastle.
“I think people have picked up on my relationship with Sol and him being available and come up with that one,” he said. “He is a good player but at the moment there’s nothing to say on it. There hasn’t been any progress.”
Meanwhile, Hughton said that Steve Harper will be fine to play at Norwich.
Burnley boss Brian Laws suggested United had suffered an injury in their goalkeeping department as an explanation for Newcastle’s reluctance to let Fraser Forster depart for Turf Moor but Hughton said that was not the case.
“Steve is absolutely fine and will be available at Norwich,” he said.