Venables heading the short list at Newcastle

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Terry Venables remains favourite to take over as manager of Newcastle United, although the club's chairman Freddy Shepherd insisted yesterday that he was working through a short list of candidates.

Discussions have taken place with Venables' representatives and although his demands are greater than Newcastle want to offer he has not been ruled out. Venables does not want to abandon a business venture he has embarked on in Spain, and his media interests, and is aware that Newcastle only regard him as a short-term solution.

Shepherd is considering the merits of Aston Villa's David O'Leary and although, ideally, he would like to approach Steve Bruce he realises that the Birmingham City manager's contract may be prohibitive. That begs the question as to why Shepherd did not try harder in the summer to lure Bruce before he signed his five-year deal. Another contender is thought to be Graeme Souness, who would be an interesting choice given that Newcastle's next opponents are Blackburn Rovers.

Yesterday Shepherd, who is under pressure after the sacking of Sir Bobby Robson and the loss of Jonathan Woodgate, said: "I know the fans are impatient. But I am as impatient as they are. What I have got to do is what is best for Newcastle United, not what is best for my popularity."

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