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Toon Target Trio

Hughton shuffles his pack

Transfer activity has so far been relatively quiet on Tyneside during the current transfer window as manager Chris Hughton sets about plotting his sides’ conquest of the Premiership next season. With meagre resources at his disposal, however, Hughton is expected to stick with the majority of his Championship winning squad next season but knows that some careful additions will be required to ensure that the Magpies successfully stave off relegation.

Hughton is interested in signing Bolton’s Jlloyd Samuel as back up for last season’s first choice left back Jose Enrique should the Spaniard be prised away from St James’ Park this summer. The Geordie’s have already reportedly had a £1m bid for the 29-year-old Trinidad & Tobago international rejected by the Trotters but the defender has only 12 months remaining on his contract at the Reebok Stadium and will test Hughton’s resolve as he tries to avoid bidding significantly higher.

Hughton’s contingency plan therefore is to try and tempt Samuel’s Bolton teammate Andrew O’Brien to return to Newcastle after the 30-year-old left the club for Portsmouth in 2005. O’brien, a Republic of Ireland international, has made over 70 appearances for Bolton and is believed to favour a move back to the North East.

Newcastle have also been linked with a move for Algeria and Slavia Sofia goalkeeper Rais M’Bolik as they try and pre-empt a big-money raid from Celtic for first choice Steve Harper. M’Bolik was conspicuous for his strong performance during England’s goalless draw with the North Africans in South Africa last week and is set to leave his Bulgarian club for £1m.

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