CHRIS Hughton is pressing ahead with plans to strengthen his Newcastle United squad this summer as he looks to make the best of a bleak financial situation at St James’ Park.
Hughton is still not sure just how little money he will have to spend this summer after an official club statement from owner Mike Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias last weekend revealed there “will be no capital outlay on new players” before the start of next season.
That uncertainty needs to be clarified as a matter of urgency before Hughton can draw up a list of potential targets, although he is still pressing ahead with planning for the Premier League campaign and still has a number of targets in mind.
Hughton had never expected to receive a large transfer kitty this summer as he has been kept up-to-date with the financial problems at the club, although he did believe there would be some money to spend and has previously spoken about the need for “three or four new players” in his squad.
That is why the “no capital outlay” sentence in the statement released on Sunday night has become a stumbling block in his recruitment drive.
Although he had identified potential loan signings and moves for players who will be out of contract at the end of June, all of these will require some level of expenditure.
A loan fee is payable to a club willing to let a player join on a temporary basis, while free signings either ask for a lump sum when they join, or higher wages over the course of their contract to reflect the fact a transfer fee was not paid.
As things stand, it is not even clear Ashley is willing to sanction that sort of spending.
Hughton had also collated a list of players he was willing to bid for when the transfer window opened, although it is doubtful he will be able to resurrect these deals given the ramifications of the fragile financial situation at St James’ Park.
Talks between manager and board are expected to happen in the next few days, although Hughton is determined not to let the uncertainty halt things completely, and he will still argue some money needs to be spent before he embarks on the challenge of trying to keep Newcastle in the top flight.
United’s manager will still be scouting players over the next few weeks and talks are continuing with agents as he tries to make the best of a bad situation.
Whether one of the players interesting Hughton (below) is Arsenal youngster Jack Wilshere remains to be seen. Newcastle did look into signing him on loan back in January, but the 18-year-old wanted to stay in the Premier League.
The midfielder has since spent a highly-successful five-month stint at Bolton Wanderers and the Lancashire club have already indicated they will ask Arsenal to let him play for them again next season.
Manager Owen Coyle said: “I would love to have him back. Jack has developed from a young boy into a man. He has been outstanding for me a on a weekly basis. Ultimately that decision will be Arsene Wenger's. Jack is a far better player now than he was in January because of his experience in the Premier League. I know he enjoys working here.”
Newcastle, though, might be a more attractive proposition than Wanderers, despite their anticipated fight against relegation next term.
However, Hughton is keeping his targets under wraps at this stage. He said: “Jack is a very good young player at Arsenal and we are aware of that, but no he is not somebody I am looking at. Everything is on going at the moment, but we are still pressing ahead with things and we are still trying to plan for next season.”