Davies unhappy with Magpies
NEWCASTLE UNITED'S approach for Nottingham Forest defender James Perch has sparked an angry response from Billy Davies, who labelled the Magies bid as derisory. After last night agreeing terms with Danny Simpson over a three-year deal, Hughton will turn his attentions to the versatile Perch. Forest have emerged as Newcastle's biggest rivals for the Championship title following their 18-match unbeaten run in the league that has taken Davies' side to within three points of Chris Hughton's pacesetters. But, if an inquiry for Perch was intended to unsettle Forest's bid for automatic promotion, then Davies' brusque response suggests the Scot is ready to play hard ball with Newcastle both on and off the field. Perch, who has played in every midfield and defensive position during his seven seasons at the City Ground, prefers to be regarded as a central defender and has been identified by Hughton as an ideal figure to bolster his thin squad. The 24-year-old has only appeared four times this season because of injury, but that has not stopped the Championship leaders from making a bid. But the Forest boss dismissed Newcastle's interest in his player, saying: We must be doing something right if other teams in our division want our players. But we are looking to build a squad here, not dismantle one. He's not leaving. Davies has insisted that he is under no pressure to sell players during the January transfer window and he made it clear that he was unwilling to let Forest academy product Perch join their main rivals on the cheap. Newcastle's offer for someone we value so highly as a player and an individual was derisory and I'm disappointed it made it into the public domain. That's not our way of doing business, he said. Perch has been with the club since he was a youngster and has made close to 200 appearances. Despite Davies' bullish response to Newcastle's interest, Perch is regarded as being surplus to his plans for the rest of the season. If Hughton returns with an improved offer, with the Mansfield-born defender rated in the £400,000 bracket, then a deal could still be on the cards. But Davies is determined to drive a hard bargain and he will be reluctant to boost Hughton's squad as the season enters a crucial phase. After failing to tie up deals for Matt Kilgallon and Jermaine Beckford, Hughton was delighted to conclude a deal for Simpson. He was always a player we wanted to keep at the club and he was very keen to stay given how much he's enjoyed his time here, said the manager. The 23-year-old, who joined the Magpies on loan from Manchester United last August, was on Tyneside yesterday to conclude contract talks and have a medical. Simpson had been poised to seal a permanent deal last week before discussions broke down over personal terms, but he has now rejoined in time for Saturday's trip to West Brom. In the meantime, it has emerged that former Magpies target Beckford, who's scored 20 goals this season, has signed a pre-contract agreement to join Everton this summer. Leeds United turned down a reported £1.5m bid from Newcastle for their star striker earlier this month, before Beckford withdrew an earlier transfer request. The revelation that Everton have already agreed terms with the highly-rated marksman explains Beckford's recent change of heart about leaving the League One leaders this month. Leeds manager Simon Grayson, however, claimed that the agreement with Everton was not set in stone.
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