Eagles closing in

Newcastle are closing in on Great Britain centre Chris Haslam as player-coach Fab Flournoy seeks to add to an impressive roster of homegrown talent ahead of next Friday's BBL opener at Sheffield.

Newcastle are closing in on Great Britain centre Chris Haslam as player-coach Fab Flournoy seeks to add to an impressive roster of homegrown talent ahead of next Friday's BBL opener at Sheffield.

The veteran was on Tyneside last night as the Eagles finally tipped off their pre-season friendly against Irish champions Cork Blue Dragons two hours after the scheduled tip-off time.

A combination of cancelled flights and a serious road accident less than a mile from Newcastle Airport meant the visitors took to the court at 10.05pm.

And until the main action got underway Haslam's presence was the main talking point, with the 32-year-old in the middle of a three-way battle for his signature as he plots a return to the BBL.

"I thought I would sign for Newcastle before the Cork game but it didn't happen and I'm heading home to Birmingham for the weekend," said Haslam, who is also talking to Leicester Riders and London United.

"But my intention right now is to collect my belongings and drive back up here on Monday to do the deal."

Eagles managing director Paul Blake fears Leicester are still in pole position to take Haslam back to the Midlands but he added: "Chris is the calibre of player we want at Newcastle and fingers crossed he will become part of this team."

The Eagles' ongoing commitment to homegrown talent is well known and the club yesterday announced the capture of emerging youngsters Tom Sherlock and Brian McCotter.

Sherlock graduated from NCAA Division Two college Wayne State in Nebraska earlier this year while McCotter joins Newcastle from Scottish outfit Troon Tornadoes.

Flournoy said: "I have always been about promoting young British talent within this franchise and I pride myself in bringing through players like Darius Defoe and Perry Lawson.

"Signing Tom and Brian gives our fans another opportunity to see some great talent develop on Tyneside."

SIMON RUSHWORTH

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