Santon could solve right-back problems

NEWCASTLE UNITED will not break the bank to bring in a new right-back this summer and a familiar face has been earmarked as a possible replacement for Danny Simpson: Davide Santon.

Simpson's future remains up in the air because of a failure to agree terms with the full-back and plans are having to be drawn up to replace him in case he has to be sold.

Lille's Mathieu Debuchy remains manager Alan Pardew's preferred choice to come in this summer, while Burnley's player of the season Kieran Trippier remains a cheaper alternative.

However, Pardew is considering all of his options and one of those is to focus more on bringing in a new left-back, which could free up Santon to swap flanks to the right.

The Italian defender was a £5m mover from Inter Milan last summer and, after a shaky start, he has started to show why he was valued so highly by the Magpies' scouting team.

When forward-thinking Santon was first signed it was his versatility which had caught the eye of the Newcastle scouts and appealed to Pardew.

Filling in at the heart of the defence has always been an option the 21-year-old has provided, although it has emerged Pardew is seriously considering swapping him to the right for the new season.

Santon, who has seven caps for Italy, is certainly open to the idea of playing right-back. He said: "If the manager asked me to play either left-back or right-back I'd be happy because I can play both positions.

"Playing at right-back is something I'd be open to. As to my preference, it just depends on the game. I just like to get forward, so whichever position allows me to get forward more I prefer."

Santon initially had problems adapting to the Premier League and was unable to break in to the Newcastle starting line-up ahead of Ryan Taylor, James Perch and even winger Jonas Gutierrez.

But he ended his first season in England as the regular choice at left-back, starting in the last seven matches of the season as Newcastle secured Europa League football for August.

His increased confidence and composure on a Premier League stage has heartened Pardew, who is looking at strengthening his squad during the summer.

Increasing his options in defence is a priority, with right-backs, centre-backs and left-backs all being considered. The uncertainty surrounding Simpson's contract situation is making Pardew weigh up all scenarios - including asking Santon to swap roles.

Simpson is set to enter the final 12 months of his contract and Newcastle are keen to avoid losing the player as a free agent next year, so they will listen to offers for.

Two players unlikely to be on their way to St James' Park, though, are Crewe's attacking midfielder Nick Powell and Twente's Ola John.

Newcastle representatives have been to watch both players in action but have decided not to pursue a deal for either player.

Powelll, 18, has helped Crewe to the League Two play-off final at Wembley and has attracted interested from a number of Premier League clubs, including Manchester United and Everton.

John, also linked with Sunderland, has got fed up of waiting for an English club to match Twente's valuation and is on the verge of a move to Benfica.

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