NEWCASTLE face a battle to hold on to Danny Guthrie, with the midfielder set to leave St James' Park in the summer in search of more regular first-team football.

Guthrie is due to become a free agent at the end of the current campaign, but talks over a potential new deal stalled at the turn of the year.

Since then, Newcastle officials and Guthrie's representatives have been reluctant to kick-start discussions and there are no plans to hold further meetings before the end of the season.

Magpies manager Alan Pardew would like to retain Guthrie's services, having handed him 17 senior appearances this term.

But it appears as though the former Liverpool trainee has decided to leave Tyneside after failing to cement a first-team spot ahead of Cheik Tiote and Yohan Cabaye.

Guthrie started six games in succession in January and February, slotting in for Tiote, who was on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Ivory Coast.

However, as soon as Tiote was available again, the 24-year-old found himself demoted to the substitutes' bench for the home game with Wolves.

He was back in the starting line-up last weekend, but his first-team return is expected to be short lived if Tiote regains his fitness ahead of Sunday's trip to West Brom.

Guthrie is understood to feel aggrieved at the way he has been treated in recent months, and it would take some firm guarantees to persuade him to remain on Tyneside this summer.

Even with Tiote's future somewhat uncertain given ongoing interest from Chelsea, it is unlikely that Pardew will be in a position to offer such strong assurances.

As a result, Guthrie is expected to move elsewhere, with Aston Villa heading a list of Premier League clubs who are monitoring the situation closely.

Alex McLeish is expected to oversee a major overhaul of Villa's midfield resources this summer, and his club's scouts have been instructed to compile a detailed assessment of Guthrie's talents.

Newcastle's scouting staff have been busy themselves in recent weeks, with 18-year-old AZ Alkmaar midfielder Adam Maher the latest player to be linked with a possible move to the North-East.

Papiss Cisse was the last player to join the Magpies, completing a £10m move from German side Freiburg in January, and Sunday's winner against Norwich was the striker's third goal in his first five matches.

While the quality of his all-round play has not always been sparkling, his goalscoring rate has already impressed his compatriot, Demba Ba.

The pair have shown signs of striking up a profitable partnership in the last few weeks, with Ba looking forward to seeing his team-mate in full flow once he has completed his settling-in period.

"He's maybe struggling with the language a bit, but he's not struggling on the pitch," said Ba. "He's taking some lessons, but on the pitch he just goes with his quality and he's a great goalscorer.

"I think for him it's great having somebody from his country around, because every time he needs my help or my support I'm going to give it.

"We didn't play a lot in the national team together because it was either him or me, so we need to learn from each other how we play and how we run and we're just going to get better and better.

"We don't really need to particularly work at it, we talk a lot on the pitch and sometimes we have to explain to him the way we play in Newcastle, but he understands it very well and we don't have big problems.

"It's very important we have a good understanding. I'm very happy for him because he's had such a big impact since he came and I just hope he's going to continue to get better."

Last weekend's win cemented Newcastle's sixth-placed position, and strengthened their pursuit of a Europa League place that is likely to be dependent on the identity of the FA Cup finalists.

"It's (Europe) still achievable," said Ba. "We've got to stay focused like we have been the whole season, and we'll do everything to achieve it.

"If we don't, we'll be happy because at the start of the season we just wanted to be in the top half of the table, but if we can get into Europe it would be fantastic."