NEWCASTLE boss Chris Hughton has hailed the “Championship pedigree” of Portsmouth defender Mike Williamson as he closes in on his second signing of the January transfer window.
Williamson was negotiating personal terms with United last night after the club had a £1m offer accepted and a deal could even be pushed through this afternoon for a player who has been a long-term Hughton target.
United were also considering a bid for Sheffield Wednesday’s young defender Mark Beevers but moved quickly for Williamson after becoming aware of interest from his former club Watford. Williamson is understood to be keen on a move to United after a long period of inactivity at Fratton Park, where he is yet to make his debut. His lack of first-team appearances is believed to relate to payments cash-strapped Portsmouth would be due to pay if he played.
Hughton told The Journal last night he was keen for the deal to be completed as soon as possible – raising the possibility of a midweek debut against Crystal Palace for the 26-year-old former Wycombe defender.
“There has been an offer made which has been accepted and at the moment we’re just working on the lad’s terms,” the United manager said. “It’s a deal that I hope goes through as soon as possible. I’m not sure whether it’s finalised but it looks as if it is quite close at the moment.
“He’s a player with good pedigree who is used to this division. He did very, very well at Watford and I have known about him for a while.
“We were interested in him before he went to Portsmouth but his games have been limited there, so this is a good opportunity for the club and for the player too. He’s a good age which gives him experience and he’ll be good competition in an area that we have always said we needed to strengthen.”
The move for Williamson brings Hughton closer to the four additions he hoped to make in the transfer window, but may not spell the end of his interest in Nottingham Forest’s versatile James Perch.
United’s manager said yesterday that the defender is still in his thinking, despite the club having a £1.75m bid, described as “derisory” by Forest boss Billy Davies, knocked back this week.
“We have in our mind the areas we need to cover and Perch is one in our thinking that can play in a number of positions so that’s something we’ll assess,” he said.
“At the moment he’s a Forest player and if it’s their desire he’ll stay a Forest player so we’ll continue to assess that.”
During a Press conference dominated by transfer speculation, Hughton ruled out a move for Aston Villa defender Curtis Davies and suggested he would not be plundering Arsenal and the Premier League’s big four for young loan players when the transfer window shuts.
With a deal for Williamson close to completion, Hughton will now turn his sights to bringing in a forward to compete with Peter Løvenkrands, Shola Ameobi, Andy Carroll and Nile Ranger. That man still looks to be Marlon Harewood, although the Magpies boss does have other targets.
He emphasised yesterday the need to recruit carefully in the January transfer window and not “panic buy”.
“It’s vitally important that there’s a balance between not panicking and not just brining in players for the sake of it, but we know we have to bring players in to give us enough numbers to cope.
“We’ve coped very well so far but we really haven’t had too many injuries. We can still use the loan system that clubs in our positions have used very well.”