Alan Pardew insists he has not frozen Sylvain Marveaux out of the Newcastle first-team picture – but has suggested Sammy Ameobi deserves as much of a chance as the France winger.
Marveaux has slipped out of contention at St James’ Park and has not played for United since September 25 in an appearance in the Capital One Cup against Leeds.
The former Rennes winger was back on the substitutes bench on Sunday for the clash with Manchester City but did not make it on to the pitch as his curiously lengthy exodus from the Newcastle team stretches into a fourth month. Even Gabriel Obertan, who has no future at Newcastle, has been preferred in recent weeks.
Marveaux’s absence is partly explained by an injury picked up in the autumn, but there is also a suspicion that Pardew does not have a role for a player who has not managed to nail down a starting spot since he joined Newcastle in the summer of 2011.
United are understood to be open to offers for Marveaux – along with Obertan and, more surprisingly, Steven Taylor – who has been interesting Crystal Palace boss Tony Pulis.
Pardew insists, however, that Marveaux has not been isolated and that he is one of “three or four” players who can emerge from the fringes and attempt to hold down a place in the coming weeks.
He includes Ameobi Junior among the group too, having noted that he is yet to get a consistent run in the first team.
“First and foremost you have to show on the training ground that you are worthy of playing in this team or getting in this group,” said Pardew.
“And then we go from there. It is as simple as that. We haven’t really seen Sammy get a chance either in this recent run and he deserves a chance as much as Sylvain. There are still three or four players who can emerge and come forward.
“I have never, ever isolated anyone at this football club. And I never will so everyone has a chance.”
As Marveaux’s future looks uncertain, United are becoming increasingly optimistic about striking a deal for priority target Luuk de Jong, who is thrashing out an exit plan with current side Borussia Monchengladbach.
The Journal understands that United have agreed a loan fee and personal terms with the forward, who is keen to make the switch to the Premier League in January.
They have also agreed a fee of around £6m if the two teams decide to make the move permanent in the summer – but there is a hold-up with the German side, who are trying to source a replacement before sanctioning the deal.
United also have an interest in Remy Cabella, the talented attacking midfielder from Montpellier, but there are fears at St James’ Park that his fine recent form has alerted others and his price will be driven up from the £12m they were originally quoted.
Newcastle are unlikely to be major players in this transfer window – a fact highlighted by Joe Kinnear in his programme notes last weekend – and the prospect of Papiss Cisse leaving in January is also fading. The player is not interested in a mooted switch to Qatar this month.
Meanwhile, this weekend United face the prospect of a reunion with former striker Andy Carroll – a player that they sold three years ago for £35m.
Whether they got the best of that deal or not, and his value dipped significantly ahead of his West Ham move, he remains a clear and present danger for Taylor and Mike Williamson, who will be tasked with containing him.
The striker has been out with a knee problem since the first weekend of the season and said: “It has been a bit frustrating – and terrible for us obviously. Coming back I can just forget about all of that and just think about football.
“I can’t stand being on the sidelines. It drives me crazy.”
For Carroll the meeting with Newcastle, who tried to sign him 18 months ago, is always special. Some of the bitterness that surrounded his record move also seems to have dissipated.
“Yes of course it is nostalgic for me. It is my home town but I am just looking forward to it really, to play again,” he said.
“Hopefully I get a few more minutes against them and we get a win this Saturday too.”