Newcastle ignore speculation Andy Carroll could return from Liverpool


Newcastle were today refusing to become involved in the soap opera surrounding the future of Liverpool striker Andy Carroll.

The Magpies woke to headlines suggesting they could make a cut-price £10million swoop to end the 23-year-old's miserable year on Merseyside.

However, as they attempt to fend off any interest in their current leading marksman, Demba Ba, the Tyneside club played down speculation that Carroll could be heading back to the north-east.

Press Association Sport understands there has been no contact between the two clubs, and the towering frontman's camp have insisted they have neither been told to look for, nor are they seeking, a new club for a man whose £35million switch to Anfield 12 months ago caught the footballing world by surprise.

In addition, Carroll himself has told friends he will not be returning to Newcastle with Luis Suarez's eight-game suspension likely to hand him the chance to finally establish himself in Kenny Dalglish's team.

The link with Carroll is perhaps understandable with Ba, the man who has taken over his mantle on Tyneside with such aplomb since the summer, having himself been thrust into the headlines in recent days.

Much to the Magpies' annoyance, news of a release clause in his contract has been made public to leave them on red alert for an approach during there current transfer window.

Ba headed of to meet up with the Senegal squad for the African Nations Cup having enhanced his reputation enormously with 15 goals banked in his Newcastle account already.

Alan Pardew snapped up the 26-year-old on a free transfer during the summer after West Ham's relegation triggered a clause in his contract.

Pardew pounced while others hovered, concerned about the player's fitness after he had failed a medical at Stoke in January last year.

Although there was no transfer fee involved, the deal was hugely complicated and had significant financial implications, and any attempt to lure him away might prove similarly convoluted and expensive.

Ba himself has moved to distance himself from at least one person claiming to represent him whose comments have helped to fuel to rumour mill, and while his current employers remain relaxed about the situation, a move to renegotiate his current deal is understood to be under consideration.

In the meantime, the Magpies will concentrate on their own January targets with a central defender their main concern, although despite Pardew's admission that the addition of another striker was unlikely this month, they have rekindled their interest in Paris St Germain's Turkey international Mevlut Erding.

It is perhaps in midfield where the manager enjoys his greatest strength in depth, although he suffered a setback today when it emerged that teenager Sammy Ameobi could be missing for several months.

The 19-year-old limped off during yesterday's 3-1 reserve team victory over Wigan after a 50-50 challenge, and tests have since indicated significant damage.

Newcastle have not disclosed details of the injury, but initial reports suggested the England Under-21 international hurt a knee.

A spokesman said: "Sammy Ameobi will be sidelined for a period of time, likely to be a number of months, as a result of an injury sustained in the Reserves' win over Wigan."

Ameobi has emerged as a promising member of the first team squad this season, and has made 13 appearances to date, 12 of them from the bench.

He scored his first - and to date, only - senior goal for the club in a 2-1 Carling Cup second round victory at Scunthorpe on August 25, and made his full Barclays Premier League debut at Manchester City on November 19.

However, with Hatem Ben Arfa now back fit and Danny Guthrie approaching a return, Pardew at least has cover in the midfield department.