Pardew takes a punt on non-League Prior


Less than 24 hours after insisting he had no plans to bring a striker to Newcastle during next month's transfer window, Alan Pardew is set to give a trial to a forward who plies his trade seven divisions below the Premier League.

In a storyline straight out of Boy's Own, Jason Prior has been given the chance of a lifetime to prove he can cut it among the elite, reward for an impressive record of 95 goals in 121 games for Ryman League South leaders Bognor Regis Town. Prior admitted to still being in a state of shock as he prepared for next week's trial: "I still can't really believe it," the 23-year-old, signed from Portsmouth-based Moneyfields in 2009, said. "It's been a mad 24 hours and it's a surreal situation."

Should Prior earn a full-time spot, he would cost Newcastle about £12,000, the fee Bognor have agreed with neighbours Eastleigh for the prolific forward, a move put on hold.

Eastleigh, of the Blue Square South, have threatened action over a breach of contract if the striker does not complete the move. A spokesman said: "Despite what we consider to be a binding agreement with Bognor Regis for the transfer of Jason, we believe they've given permission for him to train with Newcastle. It obviously contravenes our agreement, and we will consider that to be a breach of the contract."

Pardew insisted on Wednesday he had no plans to bring in attacking reinforcements when the transfer window opens, despite the loss for up to a month of 14-goal top-scorer Demba Ba on African Cup of Nations duty. The Newcastle manager is not afraid to dip into non-League in his search for talent. During his time in charge of Southampton, he signed defender Aaron Martin from Eastleigh.