Free agents could allow Pardew breathing space
NEWCASTLE boss Alan Pardew has confirmed he will try to bring in at least one free agent as he looks to compensate for the loss of Andy Carroll and Shola Ameobi. It has been a testing few days for the Magpies boss, who in the space of a week has watched star striker Carroll depart for Liverpool and Ameobi suffer a fractured cheekbone in the midweek defeat at Fulham. The extent of Ameobi's injury will not be clear until he sees a specialist next week, but it is feared the striker will be out for between six and eight weeks. That leaves the Tynesiders looking very light up front as they prepare for a difficult clash with title-chasing Arsenal at St James' Park today. Leon Best, Peter Lovenkrands and Nile Ranger are all available, but Wednesday's defeat at Craven Cottage underlined the need for Pardew to bring in at least one new striker to bolster his attacking options. Jeremie Aliadiere, Francis Jeffers and Brazilian Ewethon are all currently without a club and could be options, while they were last night linked with interest in former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry. Pardew admits whoever he brings in will not necessarily be a long-term solution or an automatic starter in the first team. Yeah, we are exploring that (the free agent market), said the Magpies manager. I have looked at our bench in terms of attacking options to change the game or put a different picture on the pitch. I need to explore that thoroughly and there are one or two options we can take and we are on to them. That is all I can report. I think it would be a great opportunity for any player to come to Newcastle and into this team because if I was a striker, I would be quite confident of getting chances with what I have behind me. But I do not envisage there is a player there who will definitely be a first-team player, but someone who can make an impact from the bench or maybe earn the right to start. There is that potential. In the wake of Carroll's multi-million pound transfer to Liverpool, Pardew revealed he had initially told Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias to reject Kenny Dalglish's approach for the striker, only to accept his hands were effectively tied once a bid of £35m came in, which the club's hierarchy deemed too good an offer to turn down. That now begs the question that if a sizeable offer was to come in for another player, would the board again intervene and sell Cheik Tiote, who returns to the side today after a threematch ban, has gained several admirers since he arrived in English football, with Chelsea and Arsenal among a number of clubs who could launch a bid for the Ivorian in the summer. While Pardew hopes that won't be the case, he admits the Magpies are still 18 months away from being in a financial position where they could reject sizeable offers for their biggest stars. My view of it is that they (Ashley and Llambias) made me aware that they wanted to get the club on a financial footing which gives them a chance to build the club, said Pardew. As you are all aware, signing younger players and hoping they become successful is part of the policy of growing as a club. Ideally, you would like to keep someone like Andy Carroll, a young player who is from the area. Financially, we could not keep him. But we like to think, or I like to think, that in two or three years time, if we can sustain our Premier League status and keep getting the TV money invested wisely, we can hold off that next bid which might be for Cheik in 18 months time. We must get ourselves in a position to do that because, at the moment, we're not. I am hoping there are no bids, otherwise we have a problem.
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