NILE Ranger is set to depart Newcastle United on a season-long loan next term – but he will not be making a permanent St James’ Park exit.
Ranger made 25 appearances during United’s promotion campaign but only featured twice after the signing of Leon Best in January, prompting speculation about his future.
He has been given reassurances by boss Chris Hughton that he does have a place in United’s plans but Newcastle are likely to sanction a loan to enable him to play regularly, according to agent Nick Rubery.
There is a degree of uncertainty over United’s fringe men after Sunday’s controversial club statement, which revealed the parlous state of United’s finances and suggested little if any money will be available to Hughton to strengthen.
Even if he doesn’t manage to recruit a striker with a Premier League track record, which was one of Hughton’s priorities, the Newcastle manager can call on Best, Shola Ameobi, Andy Carroll and Peter Løvenkrands who all appear ahead of Ranger.
And the United boss clearly believes that his England Under-19 forward needs the cut and thrust of regular games to develop his raw talent. Several Championship and League One clubs are interested in the striker, who was one of the few successes of Dennis Wise’s ill-fated spell as executive director (football).
“Obviously, Nile has total respect for Chris Hughton and it is entirely up to him what he decides to do but the indication that we have been given is that
he will be going out on loan next season,” Rubery told The Journal.
“I don’t know whether that has changed because of the statement – it depends on Chris. It is totally up to him. But I think the thinking is that he needs first-team football to progress and that he might not get that in the Premier League which I think is understandable.
“I think it would probably benefit him if he went out on loan to experience first-team football. It has been shown to work in the past with other players and it’s a route open to Nile.”
There has even been speculation that Ranger may leave the club permanently this summer.
With United looking to raise funds to supplement Hughton’s transfer war chest there have been suggestions that every member of the squad would be for sale at the right price.
Given the interest in Ranger he would be one of the players in the shop window and Sunderland were mentioned as one possible destination, while his reputation is such that he wouldn’t have a problem finding another club. But Rubery dismissed the possibility of him leaving.
“Why would he leave Newcastle?” he said. “He has two years left on his contract and wants to stay. Nile’s at a great club and he certainly doesn’t want to leave.”
Meanwhile, Hughton has warned his players not to relax too much over the summer as he eyes a flying start to the Premier League campaign.
United’s players departed a fortnight ago with strict programmes to stick to and Hughton doesn’t expect them to let their hair down too much over the summer months.
“After a long, tough season, they’ll have a good break,” said Hughton.
“We finished a week earlier than everybody else, so they’ll have a good break this summer.
“What’s important is that they stick to their programmes – but what I have found for many a year is that they’ll come back in good shape.
“Gone are the days when players would specifically use the pre-season period to get themselves fit.
“Generally, these lads are in decent fitness before they come back – and what they do know is that they’re coming back into a Premier League season.
BIRMINGHAM boss Alex McLeish is monitoring West Ham’s Carlton Cole and Fulham’s Bobby Zamora as possible summer targets.
McLeish has indicated he will spread the net far and wide to bring in new forward talent after missing out on Stuttgart’s Brazil-born Germany front man Cacau, who has opted to stay at the Bundesliga club.