Newcastle have held talks with Sol Campbell after representatives of the England international indicated their client would welcome a move to St James' Park. On the evidence of their defensive frailties, his services are required with some urgency.
Discussions with the former Arsenal centre-back are at a preliminary stage, and much rests on Newcastle's ability to offload Jean-Alain Boumsong, the out-of-favour defender, in the process freeing up funds to cover Campbell's £45,000-a-week remuneration.
Monaco are keen to take the French international on loan, but Newcastle have so far baulked at the condition that would require them to cover half of the player's £35,000-a-week wages.
Newcastle hope to progress on three cup fronts this season, and a player of Campbell's experience, who is available on a free transfer, would be a useful addition to the squad.
Portsmouth are also interested in the defender, who is keen to show he can still cut it at the top level after briefly going AWOL in the wake of some unconvincing displays last season for Arsenal.
He fits the blueprint for the type of experienced Premiership player with a point to prove to a former employer that Glenn Roeder, the Newcastle manager, is keen to attract. The chairman, Freddy Shepherd, acknowledged the need to bring in further additions on the back of Damien Duff's arrival from Chelsea.
"We're working towards more signings," he said. "Patience is important in getting the right player or players because the transfer deadline is the last day of August, which is over a month away."
Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, certainly a big name, and one of the few that Newcastle have not been linked with this summer, further took the edge off Duff's Newcastle debut by doubling the visitors' lead on 39 minutes with a neat close-range finish from a Michael Lamey cross. Jefferson Farfan, a player Roeder admires, who followed up from 10 yards after Shay Given had pushed his shot on to a post, had already, on 15 minutes, exposed the limitations of Newcastle's centre-back pairing of Titus Bramble and Steven Taylor.
Despite the odd flash of inspiration from Duff, who was substituted on the hour, Newcastle were only marginally more convincing in attack. "Damien's been back training for less than two weeks but was desperate to play, so to get 60 minutes from him is pleasing," Roeder said.
The substitute Jason Culina produced a confident finish from inside the box for the third goal four minutes after the restart as Newcastle were again left in disarray by the impressive play of Arouna Kone.
Shola Ameobi sparked a late revival to give the scoreline a flattering look with a close-range header from James Milner's 67th-minute cross, before winning a penalty five minutes later following Eric Addo's foul, which was confidently converted by Albert Luque.
"We got a chasing in the first half," Roeder said. "We had four or five players not on their game and could have been on the end of a five-goal beating when the third went in."Reuse content