Magpies duo sign new deals

04 December 2010 09:21
HAVING successfully tied Mike Williamson and Nile Ranger to new long-term deals, Newcastle officials are preparing to start contract negotiations with Joey Barton and Jose Enrique.

As expected, Williamson and Ranger both penned fiveand- a-half year deals yesterday afternoon to commit themselves to St James' Park until 2016.

Talks with Steven Taylor remain ongoing, although the defender, who is out of contract at the end of the season, appears no nearer to resolving the conflict that saw him placed on the transfer list in late August.

With Magpies manager Chris Hughton keen to remove any uncertainty relating to the more senior members of his squad, attention will now turn to Barton and Enrique, both of whom are about to enter the final 18 months of their current deals.

Hughton is understandably reluctant to allow either to reach the end of the season without a new agreement in place, and would like to see them follow Williamson and Ranger's lead by putting pen to paper as quickly as possible.

The club are conscious of the status of those two players, just as we are conscious of the contracts of all our players, particularly the ones who are playing regularly with their contracts moving closer to being up,

said the Magpies manager, who will take his side to the Midlands tomorrow afternoon to face West Brom.

Is it risky to let it get under 12 months Well, the ideal situation is to secure the players at the club for a long period, as we have done (with Williamson and Ranger).

Some situations are easier than others, but it's something the club has to work around.

Barton and Enrique's situation will be complicated by the size of the offer that was made to them when they signed their initial deal.

The duo are understood to be among the highest-paid players on Newcastle's books, as their current contracts were signed when the Magpies were flying high in the Premier League, prior to the arrival of current owner Mike Ashley.

It is extremely unlikely that a new deal will be finalised with either until Newcastle's top-flight status is secured, and it remains to be seen whether Ashley will be willing to match their current earnings.

Hughton will no doubt be hoping he does, as he can ill afford to effectively invite offers for two of his most influential players this summer. Enrique is the only recognised left-back on Newcastle's books, while Barton has been one of the club's most impressive performers this season.

The former Manchester City midfielder will return to the starting line-up at the Hawthorns tomorrow, having served a three-match suspension imposed for an offthe- ball incident involving Blackburn midfielder Morten Gamst Pedersen.

Hughton has conceded that Barton's actions in last month's defeat were silly, but is confident the 28-yearold will have learned from his mistake.

As with anybody who gets banned, he's done something silly, he said. With the cameras we have in today's game, you can't get away with it. As soon as he did it, he realised what he had done and accepted it.

He did something he very much regretted very quickly afterwards. If there was ever a testament that you can't get away with it, that was it. He's taken his punishment on the chin, apologised and now he has to learn from it. He's back in the squad, but no one is guaranteed a place in the team.

Barton is, however, expected to replace Danny Guthrie from the side that drew 1-1 with Chelsea last weekend, a result that helped ameliorate the embarrassment that accompanied the previous Saturday's 5-1 defeat at Bolton.

In the wake of the Reebok Stadium reverse, rumours circulated suggesting Hughton had made a lastminute alteration to his starting line-up at the behest of some of the more senior members of the playing squad.

The Newcastle boss has categorically denied the speculation, insisting that he alone determines the make-up of the starting XI.

I can tell you 100 per cent that there's only one person here who selects the team, and that will be the normal process. I select the team,

said Hughton, who will be without Kevin Nolan for the second game in succession as the midfielder completes his recovery from an ankle injury.

You sometimes confide in your assistants, and I did that with Colin Calderwood, but certainly not with the players.

That's an impossibility. It's a very dangerous road to go down.

It is now almost two months since Calderwood left to become manager of Hibernian, but Hughton has finally made progress in his search for a new number two.

There will be no appointment, however, before this weekend's game.

Newcastle's FA Cup thirdround tie with League Two Stevenage Borough has been selected for live television coverage on ESPN.

The game at Broadhall Way on Saturday, January 8 will now kick off at 5.30pm.

Source: Northern_Echo