Roeder admits Newcastle's pursuit of Ajax pair is destined to prove fruitless

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The Independent Football

Newcastle United have had to scratch two names from their January shopping list after being told to forget about the Ajax duo Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Urby Emanuelson.

The club's manager, Glenn Roeder, had identified the pair among his potential targets for the winter transfer window as he attempts to strengthen his squad after seeing a relative lack of depth exposed in recent weeks. However, the Dutch club have said that the two highly rated players will not be available.

"Like a lot of Premiership managers, Huntelaar and Emanuelson are two players I greatly admire, but Ajax are insisting they are not for sale," Roeder said.

Huntelaar, a striker and Dutch record £6m signing from Heerenveen, and Emanuelson, a 20-year-old left-back, both played for the Netherlands in their 1-1 draw with England in Amsterdam last week. The 23-year-old Huntelaar has already played at St James' Park, where he was on the wrong end of a 2-1 scoreline when Heerenveen lost in the second leg of a Uefa Cup third round tie in February 2005.

But he impressed in the first leg, putting his side ahead before goals from Alan Shearer and Lee Bowyer handed the Magpies the advantage in the Netherlands.

However, while Roeder's hopes of landing either man look doomed, his interest suggests the areas in which he will be looking to strengthen. With Michael Owen and Shola Ameobi suffering from long-term injuries and the £10m signing Obafemi Martins struggling for goals, Roeder does not have a lot of options while Celestine Babayaro's fitness record has seen the central defender Peter Ramage used at left-back. "We know where we need to strengthen and we will act accordingly," Roeder said.

The club has already been linked with, among others, Manchester United's Alan Smith, Aston Villa midfielder Steve Davis, central defenders Steve Gohouri, Patrick Kisnorbo and Valencia's David Navarro, and their former striker Lomana LuaLua, although none are thought to be genuine targets.

Meanwhile, Newcastle face the Spanish club Celta Vigo in the Uefa Cup on Tyneside tomorrow knowing a win will secure their place in the next round.

Roeder was able to call upon Martins for the first time in six matches for the creditable 1-1 draw with Arsenal on Saturday and will hope the 22-year-old Nigerian can repeat his performance from the first round when he scored twice at the Gallowgate End to help his side beat Levadia Tallinn.

Elsewhere in the Uefa Cup, the Blackburn defender Andre Ooijer looks set to retain the captaincy against Feyenoord tomorrow after receiving praise from his manager, Mark Hughes. He believes the Dutchman, 32, who captained his country against England last week, has all the skills needed for the role.

Ooijer wore the armband on Sunday when Blackburn had to settle for a point against Tottenham Hotspur, after Lucas Neill was ruled out with a hamstring injury. Promotion has been swift following his summer arrival after nine seasons with PSV Eindhoven, but Hughes expects him to be a big player when he returns to the Netherlands this week with Rovers. "Andre has captained his country and is an important member of our squad," Hughes said. "He has a big influence on the field and off it. Andre displays the right qualities you need from a captain.

"He has settled in quickly and will become more influential as the season progresses. Andre has a lot of insight into the game and that experience will be vital."

Michael Gray should retain his place at the back after an energetic display against Tottenham if Neill is ruled out again.

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