Lifting trophy could be Butt's last act for Magpies

23 April 2010 07:00
NICKY BUTT is set to sign off in style as Newcastle United's club captain by lifting the Championship trophy at St James' Park tomorrow afternoon.

Butt is contemplating retirement when his contract expires at the end of the season and, even if he opts to play on, he is set to move after six years on Tyneside.

His Newcastle career will be given the perfect send off after being told by manager Chris Hughton he will be the man to receive the Football League trophy they last won 17 years ago.

"He's the club captain and if I look at the period of time Ive been here, Nicky Butt has been a wonderful ambassador," said Hughton. "I knew of him before of course, and his achievements at Manchester United, and Nicky being one of that group of young quality players that came through.

"What I've seen of him in my time here is exactly that, someone with the grandeur that he had at Manchester United."

Butt will turn 36 next January and he has found opportunities in Hughton's first team this season limited so he accepts chances at Premier League level are likely to be particularly rare.

Regardless of the outcome of tomorrow's match with Ipswich Town, Newcastle know they will be presented with their first piece of silverware since 1993 and Hughton thinks Butt's approach to the game deserves the honour of lifting the trophy.

"He's someone that trains well every day. He's 35 now, he trains well and when we've needed performances from him we've got them," said Hughton. "Of course with the squad we've got he wouldn't have got the amount of minutes on the pitch that someone of his competitive nature would have liked.

"He's a hard player to leave out because he's a good player. It will be his decision whether to go into coaching. He certainly has great experience and knowledge of the game.

"You can have all that, but the drive has to be from within yourself. He has characteristics to be a coach or a manager but that's up to him. A coaching position here is not something we've spoken about."

Hughton did not reveal that Butt was planning to retire, but did state "at this moment I don't think he's officially said he will, but I know it's something that's an option."

And if the midfielder does it would bring to an end a glorious career in which he has won numerous Premier League titles during his 11 professional years at Manchester United, as well as a number of major winner's medals including the Champions League triumph over Bayern Munich in 1999.

But for a player that played 39 times for England, 16 appearances in the Championship has highlighted to him he needs a new challenge and it remains to be seen whether or not that will be on the playing side.

When Butt appears in the middle of the St James' Park pitch tomorrow to hold the trophy aloft, Steven Taylor will also make an appearance to pick up his medal.

Taylor has not played since well before his much-publicised training ground bust-up with team-mate Andy Carroll which left him with a fractured jaw, but he has returned to training from the knee injury he sustained in January.

It is unlikely Taylor, expected to be the subject of offers from the likes of Fulham and Birmingham in the summer, will be fit enough to return to action against Ipswich.

But Hughton said: "It is about making sure he is right. It would have been frustrating for him watching the Plymouth game, but nobody here is under-estimating the big part he has played in what we have achieved this season.

"He's played a lot of games and he was in really good form before his injury. He's given us a lot this season. He will be absolutely part of the celebrations."

Source: Northern_Echo