CHRIS Hughton is predicting a late summer rush in Newcastle United's Premier League recruitment drive - especially if they delve into the loan market.
Pre-World Cup business has been thin on the ground so far, with only Birmingham City and Everton making significant additions since the end of the season.
Like many clubs, Newcastle are content to limit themselves to tentative enquiries for now, and have not made much progress towards bringing in any of their top targets yet.
That means Hughton is biding his time until as late as the end of July – a waiting game that the United boss insists he is happy to play.
Hughton will attempt to broker loans from other top-flight clubs, but he knows that option has been complicated by new Premier League rules governing squad size and composition.
From next term, clubs must register a squad of 25 senior players, with eight of them required to have graduated through an Academy system.
However, clubs can supplement their squads with a ‘B list’ of as many players as they want who are under 21 – something that may make the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea
and Arsenal more reluctant to part with their players. Tentative enquiries about the availability of players like Danny Wellbeck and Tom Cleverley have already met a response from Old Trafford that no decision will be made until August.
Many in the game agree with Hughton that the market will not burst into life until much later this year – with one senior North East figure telling The Journal it may not be until the week before the transfer deadline that loan players are allowed to leave any of the ‘Big Four’.
There is also a fear that clubs will look to put immediate recall clauses in any deals they negotiate, something that makes it far more difficult to integrate players joining on a temporary basis.
Although the new rules have created uncertainty, Hughton insists the loan market can still be profitable if the targets are the right ones.
“With the World Cup this summer I really can’t see any significant movements until quite late (in the transfer window period) and of course there isn’t a lot of money out there in the market,” Hughton said.
“We’re no different from a lot of clubs. It could be June or even later in July after the players have come back from pre-season before we see anything happening in the market. We will be aware of what is going on, but what usually happens is that one player signs for a club and that may mean another player becomes available.
“The loan market is open to us and if it is the right player then it is something that we will do. However, managers will want to assess things when they get back after the summer.
“We’re busy working on things – but I don’t see anything happening imminently.”
While United are looking to add new players, most of the burden for keeping the club in the top flight will reside with the players that helped them get promoted last season. And it is an indication of the importance of the club’s Championship stars that Hughton is ready to offer Andy Carroll the coveted number nine shirt.
“It has yet to be decided. But the type of character that Andy is tells me he wouldn’t shy away from it if we hand it to him in July,” he said.
“He has got no fear and I think he would simply revel in the situation. He certainly will be a good candidate for it.
“When you look at the greats who’ve worn it, it can be a burden for others, but I honestly don’t think that it would be for Andy.
“He’s not that type of character.”