Keegan and Wise get down to work

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Dennis Wise arrives at St James' Park today where, contrary to reports, he will be based. In keeping with his new role as Newcastle United's Executive Director (Football), Wise will have an office at the ground from which he will oversee recruitment at the club and the development of the Newcastle Academy. The nature of the job means that Wise will spend time away from St James'.

At some point today it is anticipated Wise will meet Kevin Keegan to discuss their working arrangements more fully, the two having met briefly after Tuesday night's 3-0 defeat at Arsenal. It is not expected Wise, or Newcastle's two other appointments this week, Tony Jimenez and Jeff Vetere, will be formally unveiled as their role is being seen by the club as significant but behind the scenes.

After some ambiguity in his answers on Monday and Tuesday concerning Wise and his prior knowledge of the appointment, Keegan will welcome the opportunity to speak to Wise at length about where the two men see the club going. Keegan's vague answers on Monday were all the more strange as Jimenez and Vetere were with Keegan in the directors' box when he was re-introduced to St James' before the Stoke City replay a fortnight ago.

"I have had a chat with Dennis already but we are going to get around the table again and I'm looking forward to working with him," Keegan said on Tuesday night. "I knew what was going to happen when I took over and I knew what Dennis Wise was going to do.

"I'm all for the changes and approve of them. If they want someone on the board who knows football, then Dennis Wise knows football and I think it will work very well."

Despite the fresh emphasis on recruitment, Keegan said yesterday that he does not expect new signings before the deadline tonight, though the Levante centre-half Alvaro, a Brazilian, has said that he is due on Tyneside for a medical. Such claims have been made before.

"I'll be honest with you," Keegan said, "I've sat down and looked and there isn't anyone out there who is going to strengthen us better than when the four players come back from the African Nations Cup. They'll be back with us in two-and-a-half weeks, and there's just nothing out there."

On possible outgoings, Keegan said: "I cannot let anybody go out. I've had inquiries for three players – one loan and two to sell – but I can't do it. It would be madness. It would be impossible to sell as I haven't got enough players."

The size of Newcastle's squad has been one of Shay Given's concerns for the past two seasons and Given is still of that mind. Only Reading and Derby have conceded more goals in the Premier League than Newcastle, who have taken two points from their past seven matches.

That has left Newcastle seven points above the relegation zone, two ahead of Middlesbrough, visitors to St James' on Sunday.

"There is a danger now of getting sucked into the relegation battle," Given said. "We are very aware of that, we are looking over our shoulders. The good thing is that we are not playing Arsenal away every week, even though it seems like it after the last two games.

"We have got a massive game now on Sunday against Middlesbrough, it's a local derby and they are in and around us in the table, so it is a huge game."

Given admitted that "everybody has got carried away a bit," by Keegan's return and the Irishman is already speaking of the need for time and space.

"There's a lot of work to be done and Kevin has not got a magic wand. It is not going to happen overnight. It would be nice to get a few players in as well, but right now it looks like we are not going to get any in before the transfer window closes."

If a magician is what Newcastle require then the sight of Diego Maradona in their dressing room after the Arsenal game should inspire.

"It was a lift for us," said Newcastle's defender David Rozehnal, "quite surreal."

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