Ashley flies in for transfer talks

The Northern Echo: WISH LIST: Alan Pardew is hoping to make some transfer headway after meeting owner Mike Ashley yesterday WISH LIST: Alan Pardew is hoping to make some transfer headway after meeting owner Mike Ashley yesterday

NEWCASTLE boss Alan Pardew is hoping to finally make some transfer headway after holding a rare face-to-face meeting with Mike Ashley yesterday.

Ashley's private helicopter landed at Newcastle's Darsley Park training ground yesterday lunch-time. The Magpies owner watched part of a behind-closed-doors friendly between the club's reserves and a Hibernian XI before moving inside to meet Pardew and chief executive Derek Llambias.

The trio watched a series of incidents from Saturday's FA Cup third-round defeat to Stevenage, and discussed perceived weaknesses within sections of the Newcastle squad. This then led to a more detailed discussion of possible transfer dealings during this month's transfer window.

Ashley remains reluctant to sanction too much expenditure, but Pardew is understood to have stressed the need for an experienced attacking addition before the window closes on January 31.

The Magpies have held a series of informal discussions with a range of clubs already this month, but are yet to table a formal offer or hold detailed contractual talks with anyone.

They have raised the possibility of taking Robbie Keane or David Bentley on loan from Spurs, and have also discussed Shaun Wright-Phillips future with Manchester City.

Bentley joined Birmingham on loan yesterday, and with Keane and Wright-Phillips understood to be earning more than £60,000-a-week, it is hard to imagine Newcastle signing either of the duo unless their parent clubs agree to foot some of the bill.

At the moment, Spurs and Manchester City are unwilling to accede to such a request, although that situation could change if no alternative offers are deemed acceptable before the window swings shut.

Newcastle have also inquired about the possible availability of Birmingham midfielder Sebastian Larsson.

Larsson, who is due to become a free agent in the summer, has been mentioned as a £1.5m target, with Pardew keen to increase his options on the right of midfield.

However, the Sweden international played in his side's Carling Cup defeat to West Ham United on Tuesday night, and sources in the Midlands claim Birmingham officials remain confident of striking a deal that will see him remain at St Andrew's beyond the end of the season.

Saturday's FA Cup capitulation at Broadhall Way is sure to have focused minds on Tyneside, however, with even the senior members of the squad accepting the 3-1 defeat underlined the lack of depth within the current Newcastle squad.

"If you are fresh, it always makes that bit of difference," said captain Kevin Nolan. "It (the defeat) just shows we probably need a couple more players, and hopefully we'll get them in January to help us out and get us over that finishing line at the end of the season. Then, in the summer, we can hopefully bring another three or four players in.

"I think the genuine thing was that we'd had a lot of games over the Christmas period and Stevenage hadn't, and the rest was history. Fair play to them.

"I've seen the owner around the place - he's just here to see the gaffer. Hopefully, talks between them are going to be good and hopefully we will be seeing a couple of new faces soon. In the next couple of days would be nice, but even if it's in the next couple of weeks, that would be perfect."

Yesterday's friendly was a notable occasion as it saw Dan Gosling make his first appearance in a Newcastle shirt.

The midfielder, who arrived on a free transfer from Everton last summer, has completed his recovery from a serious knee injury, and could be involved in the squad for Sunday's Wear-Tyne derby at Sunderland.

He partnered Danny Guthrie at the heart of midfield yesterday, and produced one strike that rattled the Hibernian crossbar.

First teamers James Perch and Nile Ranger were also involved as a Jeff Henderson double and a goal from Phil Airey secured a 3-3 draw.

NEWCASTLE: Soderberg, Perch (Leadbitter), Dummett (Inman), J Henderson, Folan, Newton (McDermott), Guthrie, Gosling (Sam Ameobi), Ferguson, Ranger, Airey.

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