NEWCASTLE United manager Bobby Robson has added Colombian international Freddy Grisales to his list of midfield targets.

Grisales, who is jointly owned by Atletico Nacional in his native country and Argentina's San Lorenzo, is said to be the subject of talks between United and the Colombian side.

But any deal could become complicated, with San Lorenzo - who handed Grisales his debut six years ago - certain to be involved in three-way negotiations.

Grisales, 26, yesterday confirmed United's interest. "The offer from Newcastle is the truth,'' he said.

"It is necessary to analyse it, because we must reach an agreement with San Lorenzo too."

United are likely to exercise caution after it was revealed that the attack-minded Grisales has an ankle injury, which forced him to miss Atletico's recent encounter with Emelec.

He said: "I am still not totally fit, but I hope in the next few days to restart training."

Apparently keen to follow in the footsteps of fellow Colombian Faustino Asprilla, who spent an eventful two-year spell with United from 1996-98, Grisales has demonstrated an eye for goal as well as expertise at set-pieces.

Robson is determined to find a long-term replacement for the unhappy Robert Lee, who is destined to leave St. James' Park, and Sevilla's Francisco Casquero is also under scrutiny.

But Robson could face competition from Atletico Madrid, who were quoted £3m for the central midfielder.

The United boss watched Casquero cap an impressive performance with a goal in the 3-1 win over Malaga during the Magpies' trip to Spain a fortnight ago.

It was the first of two checks on Casquero by United, and with Sevilla in dire financial straits and the Spanish transfer window opening on December 15, a bid could be in the offing.

Robson's top midfield target is Feyenoord's Brett Emerton, but the Rotterdam giants have slapped a prohibitive £15m price tag on the Australian international.

Meanwhile, Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd has warned his players they won't be paid if they take strike action.

Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor has called a strike for next weekend in the ongoing dispute over TV revenue.

But Shepherd has accused the PFA of "living in Cloud Cuckoo Land'' and dismissed Taylor's statements as "rubbish'' and "propaganda''.

Shepherd said: "Call me old-fashioned, but the minute any Newcastle United player goes on strike is the minute we stop paying them.

"Why should they be treated any differently from our supporters, who have to work hard at their own jobs to pay the players' wages?

"I can't understand why they think they have the right to go on strike. Newcastle United are not in dispute with the players over anything.

"We pay them the best of wages - wages which some people may say are spiralling out of control - and we have honoured all our commitments to them.

"It's a commercial dispute between the PFA and the football authorities, but it is the clubs and the fans who are going to suffer most.''

Multi-millionaire construction magnate Shepherd, who runs Shepherd Offshore, added: "I have been on strike before when I was an apprentice with Swan Hunter, and I'm not anti-union.

"I would consider Gordon Taylor a friend of mine, but I can't believe the rubbish and propaganda he is putting out. Let's go to court and see who they say is right.

"I could understand it if the players were on the breadline.''

However, Jane Duffy, who led the supporters' Save Our Seats campaign at Newcastle, said: "The PFA are completely justified in their position.

"I think Mr Shepherd's comments are off the mark.''

Newcastle's game at Charlton a week tomorrow would be among the first casualties if the strike goes ahead

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