Shearer can still play part, says Keegan

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The Independent Football

Kevin Keegan will speak again to Alan Shearer on Monday regarding the possibility of Shearer assuming some form of coaching role at Newcastle United. Keegan said yesterday that Shearer has declined the chance to be assistant manager, but Keegan is hopeful Shearer will play some role at the club's training ground because: "This job will come for Alan. The perfect scenario is for him to come in, get more involved as time goes on and eventually take over from me.

"I have three and a half years on my contract here, I will nearly be 60 and in a perfect world that sounds like it would make sense. But that is a perfect world. Let's wait and see what he comes back with."

Keegan is also eager to sign Jonathan Woodgate from Middlesbrough despite interest in the England centre-half from Tottenham Hotspur. Keegan attempted to be coy on the subject yesterday but said: "At the moment he is one of a number of players we have talked about. I am not surprised others are interested."

Whether it is within Keegan's remit to offer Shearer the prospect of a succession may be more than a technicality to owner Mike Ashley, but Keegan's enthusiasm for the former No 9 to be involved is unmistakable. On Thursday night the two men had a four-hour discussion having not spoken for some time.

"I would not say it was clear-the-air," Keegan said, "but we had not spoken for a year and I now know why that happened." He would reveal no more but said that it was not because of Shearer's testimonial, which Keegan did not attend. "I told him all about the club. We had a great chat and he at the end of it he said: 'I don't want to come as a No 2 at the moment.' So that is clear. But I think he is interested in coming and joining us. He is going to go away and talk about it with Lainya [Shearer's wife]. We will talk again on Monday. There is no pressure on him to join us, it is whether he wants to."

Shearer's thoughts are not yet known. He has his A and B coaching badges but not yet the Pro Licence, and he has his work as a BBC pundit, a contract that runs until the end of the 2010 World Cup.

Keegan did offer the possibility that Shearer might be able to play some role on even a part-time level, and the aim from Keegan's perspective seems to be to get Shearer inside the building and then work on him. From Shearer's angle, it could be the opportunity to get some of the experience that chairman Chris Mort mentioned almost every day after Sam Allardyce's dismissal.

"We had a great conversation. I know there is a place here for Alan. He has a wealth of experience. He has got the respect, so that when that guy stands in front of the players and he is talking to them, they are looking at him saying this guy is not just talking sense, he has done it."

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