NEWCASTLE United are waiting anxiously to see whether Olivier Bernard turns up today for the start of pre-season training.

The French left-back is in dispute with the Magpies after a Premier League tribunal last week blocked his move to West Ham and ruled that he was under contract with Newcastle for another year.

Bernard, who vowed never to return to St James' Park, regardless of the outcome of the hearing, has launched an appeal against the decision.

The one-time Darlington loanee signed a pre-contract agreement with the Hammers, insisting his two-year deal with Newcastle had expired and that he had become frustrated by a lack of first-team action.

But the tribunal backed the Magpies' claim that they held an option to retain 22-year-old Bernard for a third season.

Bernard was also caught up in controversy when he fought a legal battle with Lyon to win his release and join Newcastle on a free transfer in September 2000.

Meanwhile, Newcastle's former Darlington striker James Coppinger is set to swap one St James' Park for another by joining Exeter City on a free.

Newcastle yesterday announced that Coppinger's contract had been cancelled by mutual agreement.

The 21-year-old Teessider is seeking first-team football after failing to establish himself in Newcastle's senior set-up.

Coppinger spent a successful three-month loan with Hartlepool United last season, helping the Victoria Park side into the Division Three play-offs.

He also had a temporary stint with Pool towards the end of the 1999-2000 season.

Coppinger joined Newcastle from Darlington in March 1998 and, while only 17 at the time, made rapid progress through the junior and reserve-team ranks to reach the fringe of the first team.

He made his debut for Newcastle as a substitute in the 2-0 home win over Tottenham nearly two years ago, but failed to add to his senior appearances.

* Defender Gary Caldwell, who signed a new two year contract at St James' Park last week, has completed a year-long loan deal with Coventry.

Read more about Newcastle United FC here.