Alan Pardew has broken his summer silence to admit that the World Cup could hamper Newcastle's chances of signing a striker. Perhaps he's worried that if Shola gets a couple of goals for Nigeria, he might struggle to attract him back to St James' as a free agent at the end of August.

More realistically, Pardew is worried about selling clubs holding on to their players in the hope that market values will leap after the tournament in Brazil. Unless you're trying to sign Fred.

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Pierre-Michel Lasogga looks like being one player who will slip through the net as the striker appears to have his heart set on a summer move to Hamburg, having spent last season on loan at the Bundesliga side.

Newcastle have talked terms with Lasogga and his agents, but the German media are reporting that he has informed Hertha Berlin officials that he doesn't want to move to England and would prefer to rejoin Hamburg instead. Another one off the list then.

Transfer likelihood rating: 1/10

As reported in The Northern Echo earlier this month, Burnley's Danny Ings is an alternative option, although again Newcastle find themselves among a cluster of other clubs interested in the striker.

The Northern Echo: Danny Ings

Ings has entered the final year of his current deal at Turf Moor and despite firing Burnley to promotion last season, is reluctant to commit himself to a longer-term deal with the Clarets. Hardly a ringing endorsement of their survival chances.

Newcastle would like him, and could increase the wages he's currently earning in the North-West, but with Everton and Wolfsburg also keen, will Mike Ashley offer enough to blow everyone else out of the water? On previous evidence, you'd have to say it's unlikely.

Transfer likelihood rating: 3/10

Newcastle have been extensively linked with Ross McCormack this summer, although it's a grey area whether they actually had a bid turned down for the striker, with Magpies officials saying one thing and their counterparts at Leeds saying another.

It's been another weird and wacky week at Elland Road, with Sedgefield-born Dave Hockaday appointed as head coach. No, I'd never heard of him either.

Hockaday, who started his playing career as a youth with Billingham Synthonia, was previously boss at Forest Green. Perhaps Massimo Cellini saw 'Forest' on his CV and thought he'd be ideal to clear out a bit of dead wood.

Either way, the new head coach met the press for the first time yesterday and immediately issued what any right-minded transfer round-up has to describe as a 'hands-off warning' about McCormack.

"We've talked about it and obviously I want to keep Ross," he said. "But you want to keep your best players and we've got some good players, not just Ross."

Transfer likelihood rating: 3/10

Meanwhile, Sheffield Wednesday head coach Stuart Gray has confirmed the Championship club are looking to sign Sammy Ameobi this summer.

The youngster was on the fringe of Newcastle's senior team last season, but has rarely looked like establishing himself as a first-team regular under Pardew. As a result, it would be no surprise to see the Magpies moving him on.

Transfer likelihood rating: 7/10


Swansea have emerged as serious rivals to Sunderland in the race to sign full-back Marcos Alonso from Fiorentina.

Alonso spent the second half of last season on loan at the Stadium of Light from the Italian club, and Gustavo Poyet would like to engineer a permanent deal.

The Northern Echo: IN DEMAND: Sunderland want to sign Marcos Alonso on a permanent deal from Fiorentina this summer

Poyet spoke with Alonso and his representatives prior to the summer break, and Sunderland officials have also discussed the defender with their counterparts at Fiorentina.

However, Swansea have also registered their interest, with Garry Monk keen to strengthen his defence this summer.

Alonso enjoyed his time on Wearside last season, and Sunderland will be hoping that counts for something during negotiations. Perhaps they'd better hide the DVD of the final-day defeat to Swansea, though, just in case that sways things.

Transfer likelihood rating: 6/10

Speaking of former loanees, there have been more hints coming out of Liverpool that Fabio Borini will be allowed to leave in the wake of Rickie Lambert's move from Southampton.

Given Brendan Rodgers' desire to get rid of Andy Carroll as quickly as possible, it's hard to see how Lambert is going to fit into things at Liverpool. They'll have to order some bigger tops for a start. 

Borini, on the other hand, looks tailor-made for Rodgers' preferred playing style, but despite almost winning the title for Liverpool last season with his goal against Chelsea, it looks like the striker will be moving on.

Sunderland would love to have him back, but there are clubs right across Europe poised to make a move. An early test of Lee Congerton's negotiating skills is likely to be in the offing.

Transfer likelihood rating: 4/10


No real player news flying around with Middlesbrough, but some interesting dug-out gossip with the news that Tony Mowbray's former assistant, Mark Venus, has been lined up to be the new boss at Hibernian.

The Northern Echo: ON A KNIFE-EDGE: Mark Venus

Venus was in charge of Boro for three games last season, but Aitor Karanka's appointment led to him being given an extended spell of gardening leave. If it's only finishing now, he should be primed to enter next year's Chelsea Flower Show.

Hibs are looking for a new boss following their sacking of Terry Butcher in the wake of last season's relegation from the SPL, and having previously worked at Easter Road alongside Mowbray, Venus would be a popular choice.

Former Boro striker Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink is also believed to be in the running, along with ex-Everton defender Alan Stubbs.

Appointment likelihood rating: 8/10