Butt to sign off in style
NICKY BUTT is expected to sign off 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 will move on 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 I've 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 is 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 will be presented with the Championship trophy and Hughton thinks Butt's approach to the game deserves the honour of lifting the trophy. 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 an option. And if the midfielder does end his career it would bring the curtain down on a glorious career in which he has won numerous Premier League titles at Manchester United, as well as a Champions League winners medal in 1999. But for a player that played 39 times for England, 16 appearances in the Championship this season has highlighted his need for a new challenge. When Butt lifts the trophy at St James' Park tomorrow, he will be joined on the pitch by Steven Taylor who will pick up his medal. Taylor has not played since 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 will be absolutely part of the celebrations.
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