Newcastle target return to top four

Newcastle's fans have been promised the club remains committed to re-establishing itself at the top end of the English game.

Managing director Derek Llambias last night met fans' representatives as the Mike Ashley regime stepped up its charm offensive following a torrid few months at St James' Park.

The club's current owners have found themselves a target for disgruntled supporters in the wake of Kevin Keegan's departure as manager in September last year, and the highs of his first reign and of the five years Sir Bobby Robson spent at the helm are now distant memories.

However, Llambias insisted Ashley's ambition remains undimmed.

Asked if the club could rub shoulders with the big boys both at home and in Europe once again, he said: "Why not?

"We want to be solid competitors at the top. That's the way we are going. We aim to be knocking on the door again."

Llambias was grilled by the Supporters Panel, a cross-section of 23 fans, during a two and a half-hour session during which he admitted that the club's decision to keep their own counsel in the immediate aftermath of Keegan's exit was a mistake.

However, with Ashley having ended his self-imposed exile from St James' Park and shelved plans to sell the club, he is once again pressing ahead with his long-term vision.

Llambias said: "We have plans for the club and we are taking them forward.

"When we took over, we had repair work to do and holes to fill. That has been huge step. We have put in quarter of a billion into the club.

"We didn't think the club had any foundation, there was a poor Academy and we are now building for the future.

"We are not neglecting the club."

Llambias was quizzed about the cash available to strengthen a squad depleted by the sales of James Milner and Shay Given, but was giving little away.

Meanwhile, Senegal international defender Habib Beye is targeting Arsenal's visit to St James' on March 21 for his comeback from an ankle ligament injury.

Beye has been out of action since damaging his ankle in a challenge by Wigan's Lee Cattermole on Boxing Day.

Cattermole has hit the headlines more than once this season for his rugged approach to the game, and the Middlesbrough old boy made his mark at the Riverside Stadium once again at the weekend with a tackle, albeit a fair one, which left Didier Digard facing 12 weeks on the sidelines.

Speaking of his run-in with the 20-year-old, Beye said: "It was one of the most harrowing experiences of my career. I thought my leg was broken.

"When I went to the hospital, it was a relief as they said nothing was broken."

Beye has spent the two months since working on his rehabilitation, and is determined to return ahead of schedule to play his part in the Magpies' fight for Barclays Premier League survival.

He said: "We have talked about Chelsea on 4 April, but I would like to think I could be back in the team for the Arsenal game.

"I was determined to play again this season. On Boxing Day, they thought four months - now I am one month ahead.

"If I am back by the end of March, there will be six or seven games to play. That wouldn't be bad.

"This has been a hard season for us so if I can salvage something from it, brilliant."

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup