Hughton looking for stars on the World Cup stage
CHRIS Hughton expects the World Cup finals in South Africa to play a crucial role in Newcastle United's summer strengthening plans. The Magpies will be officially crowned as Championship champions this afternoon, with skipper Nicky Butt set to receive the club's first piece of domestic silverware since 1993 in the wake of his side's home game against Ipswich Town. A sold-out St James' Park is ready to acclaim Newcastle's title triumph, but with their season closing at QPR next weekend, thoughts are already turning to the reinforcements required to survive in the top-flight. Hughton is expected to have around £15m to spend this summer, and the Magpies boss has already begun to assemble a list of players he intends to target once the transfer window re-opens at the start of June. But with the World Cup finals dominating the summer schedule, he admits events in South Africa could force a reassessment of his options. We would be the same as most clubs, said Hughton. Sometimes, the World Cup reconfirms something you've been thinking. Most clubs already have their targets and the players they like, but what might happen in a World Cup is that you see somebody who has an excellent tournament and, if some of your targets don't materialise, the emphasis changes somewhat. Most clubs would be the same, even if most of their work and most of their targets would already be in place. Am I going to the World Cup At the moment, I've no firm plans to go. But I'm quite sure there's a possibility there'll be the odd game I go to. Hughton is expected to meet owner Mike Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias in the next fortnight to thrash out his transfer plans, and the trio are also expected to discuss the manager's own contractual position. Hughton has one more year of his current deal to run, but Ashley is understood to be keen to offer the 51-year-old a new contract in recognition of his efforts and successes this season. In contrast to last summer, when the manager's position was a subject of much conjecture in the corridors of power at St James', there will be no debate over the role this year, with Ashley convinced Hughton is the right man to lead Newcastle back into the top-flight. I've always wanted to wait until what I regard as the important business is done, and that's securing promotion and winning the Championship, said the United boss. I wanted to leave any talk of contracts until after that. I anticipate I would have meetings with Derek and Mike regarding lots of issues, players for next season and the normal stuff. Hopefully, that will be the case. I am under contract. The situation would be different if I was out of contract, but I'm under contract. The most important thing is the football. I've not been knocking down doors. We've had meetings, but that's normal. I'd have meetings with Derek quite regularly. The bigger meetings, as you might put it, for the bigger issues, are still to come. One issue has been decided however, with Hughton willing to allow Spanish misfit Xisco to make a permanent return to his homeland. The 23-year-old, who was one of the players controversially signed by former executive director Dennis Wise, has spent the current campaign on loan at Racing Santander, and while he has found some form in La Liga, there is no desire to bring him back to Tyneside for the start of next season. He's a player we were prepared to let go a year ago, said Hughton. I don't see much has changed since then. We'll see whether he wants to remain in Spain. He's contracted to us, so if he did come back he'd be a Newcastle player and we'd judge him on the merits of what we saw.
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