HUGO Viana has accepted that he is unlikely to become a Sporting Lisbon player this summer, but Newcastle's forgotten midfielder remains hopeful of securing a move away from St James' Park.

Viana spent last season on loan at Sporting and, after beginning his career in the Portuguese capital, had hoped to make a permanent move to his homeland next month.

Magpies manager Graeme Souness does not see the former European Young Player of the Year as part of his plans and has instructed chairman Freddie Shepherd to smooth his exit.

But, while Sporting remain keen to sign Viana, the beaten UEFA Cup finalists do not have the finances to meet Shepherd's valuation.

Newcastle shelled out £8.5m to sign the 22-year-old in 2002 and, while the Magpies board are resigned to suffering a loss on their initial investment, they remain hopeful of receiving around £4m for a player who could yet fulfil his immense promise.

"I've been in France with Sporting over the weekend and, although one of the club's directors was with us, he didn't speak to me," revealed Viana, who made just 28 starts for the Magpies. "I think that tells its own story.

"Right now, I'm a Newcastle player. I haven't been told to report for pre-season training because I don't think anyone at United believes I'll come back.

"Newcastle haven't been in touch for a few weeks but I know the chairman is doing everything he can. He knows how I feel and he is trying to help me. I appreciate that. I'm confident everything will be resolved within two weeks."

Sporting's Portuguese rivals, Porto and Benfica, are also keen to sign the midfielder.

Neither would be able to meet Newcastle's valuation up front, but both have players who could interest the Magpies as part of a swap deal.

Porto are keen to offload striker Benni McCarthy, who has been linked with Middlesbrough in the past, while Benfica are willing part with full-back Miguel, who was a favourite of former Newcastle boss Sir Bobby Robson.

Souness is aware of both possibilities and, with next summer's World Cup in Germany in sight, Viana remains hopeful of furthering his international ambitions with a prominent role in the Portuguese league.

"Everyone knows that I want to stay in Portugal but it's out of my hands," he said. "From a personal point of view, I've grown to love my football again here.

"I've played regularly, scored goals and made goals. That's what I play the game for.

"It was a massive difference to the previous two seasons and it's made me realise how important first-team football is.

"I'm enjoying playing for the Under-21s and I feel confident I'm back on track to make the World Cup next summer."

Meanwhile, Newcastle have learned the identity of the first of three clubs they could face in their opening Intertoto Cup clash in July.

Hungarian minnows Vasas will enter the competition in the first round after finishing 13th in their domestic league.

They will play an unnamed Slovakian side with the winners taking on a team from Turkey in the second round with the successful club in that tie meeting the Magpies in round three.

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