The England international Nicky Shorey is among those in Kevin Keegan's sights as the Newcastle manager tries to add a few names to his squad before the end of the month, as well as speaking to Alan Shearer about the possibility of him joining the back-room staff at St James' Park.
Shorey, 26, has only 18 months left on his existing deal with Reading and has shown no inclination to sign a new contract with the club. With his value likely to decline steeply in the summer, he is a feasible target this month and would cost Newcastle around £5.5m. A deal for Shorey to join West Ham fell through in the summer.
The signing of a left-back is only a small part of the rebuilding job that Keegan is faced with at Newcastle. Nonetheless Shorey represents an opportunity to land an England player who has valuable Premier League experience. The key moves over the next few days are also expected to involve Keegan trying to complete his loyal back-room staff. The one bequeathed him by his predecessor, Sam Allardyce, numbers around 30, which is not the kind of tight circle of advisers that Keegan favours.
In Shearer's case, the signs are that he would accept a role with Keegan if both men thought it appropriate. Keegan is doing little to dampen expectation, saying, when asked if he would be "comfortable" working with someone of Shearer's stature: "Yes, I wouldn't have a problem with that at all. Alan Shearer is going to manage this football club one day, that's for sure. It's the same as when I left here as a player, I knew I would come back as manager if I wanted to. There are some players like that who get that opportunity, it's just a case of when."
The two men have had their first conversation, last Friday, which was short but friendly and Shearer has said he will call Keegan on his return from a Sport Relief charity trip to Uganda this week.
"I think two things," Keegan said. "One is that I know he [Shearer] loves the club. People sometimes don't think that's enough but it's a good base. I don't mean this disrespectfully, it [management] has just not been his priority until now. If common sense prevails, I've got three and a half years here and, yeah – if common sense prevails. But let's get to that. I'm reluctant to discuss those things in public."
Keegan has Terry McDermott alongside him from the existing Newcastle staff and is bringing back Arthur Cox to St James' Park. There is a growing belief that a significant number of the permanent staff brought in by Allardyce will be asked to leave and, if Keegan is left with only McDermott and the 69-year-old Cox as his senior colleagues, then there would be room for Shearer to be an influential No 2. Keegan is still expected to add another coach even if Shearer comes in.
"We had a good conversation," Shearer said. "We didn't go into detail, so what we've agreed is when I get back at the end of the week I'll give him a ring and we'll see where we go."