Hughton warns squad cannot be weakened
CHRIS HUGHTON has been praised by Mike Ashley for leading Newcastle United to the top of the Championship, but the caretaker boss has warned the clubs owner that he cannot afford to lose any more players in January. There have been calls from leading figures in the dressing room for the interim manager to be handed control on a full-time basis, but there remains question marks surrounding his own position. Hughton, however, is unconcerned and he will not be knocking on Ashleys door demanding a change of title. The caretaker boss remains solely focused on promotion. He has held talks with Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias recently, and one warning he did issue was that Newcastle can ill-afford to continue cashing in on players. Dutch goalkeeper Tim Krul has been attracting interest from home and abroad following his failure to force his way ahead of Steve Harper, while Jonas Gutierrez and Fabricio Coloccini are two of the most likely contenders to be targeted. Both are now looking to stay in Diego Maradonas plans after Argentina qualified for the World Cup and would-be suitors will be hopeful of reaching some sort of agreement something Hughton was keen to dismiss. If I look at the conversations Ive had, more so with Derek (Llambias), itd be about where we are at this moment leading into January. Ive not been made aware of any interest in any of our players at all, he said. What I can say is that I havent been made aware of any interest at all in Tim, but hes a very good goalkeeper, and hes a goalkeeper playing at international level, albeit Under-21s and hes a player who has been around the first team now for a couple of seasons and we feel hes got a very good future here. Any interest in our players is probably a mark of that were doing well. If I look at the way that weve approached the season so far we know its going to be a tough job to keep it going, as it will be for anyone else around the areas we are, so I certainly would like to keep everyone weve got here. Hughton, although he has never admitted it publicly, would welcome being permanent manager, and his record this season strengthens his arm. Newcastle head to Nottingham Forest this evening three points clear at the top of the Championship after 11 matches, form he is keen to ensure continues after drawing two consecutive home matches. I have spoken to them, yes (Ashley and Llambias). Just really on team issues and of course theyre delighted to see where we are at this stage of the season, said Hughton. I do speak to them but probably the bonus that I have is that I have a job to be getting on with. I probably dont want to concern myself too much with everything else thats going on above me probably for the simple fact that its something different every day, every week. If I look at where we are at this moment in time then the players that Ive wanted to come in have come in so from that side of things I have no complaints. One of Hughtons recruits, Marlon Harewood, has recovered from a hamstring problem in time to face his former club Forest tonight, which keeps the options open for a change to the forward-line. Harewood, Peter Lovenkrands, Andy Carroll are all vying to start, while Nile Ranger hopes to have recovered from a virus. It is that sort of competition Hughton has been looking for and he feels bringing in Harewood, Danny Simpson and Zurab Khizanishvili has given him the strength needed. What Ive always said is that there are always going to be judgement calls. Weve had times where weve needed to bring in at a certain position and weve done so, he said. Were coping well with the squad weve got. Weve three or four young players who are very much part of that squad and theyll benefit from playing this season.
Related Newcastle United News