Club Focus – Newcastle United – Magpies look to Larsson

Newcastle United could be set to make their second signing of the January transfer window after being given permission to speak to Birmingham City midfielder Sebastian Larsson. The Swedish born player is out of contract in the summer and has so far failed to reach any agreement over a new contract with the Blues. His move to Tyneside could depend on David Bentley passing a medical to conclude a loan switch from Tottenham Hotspur to Birmingham.

The right-sided winger began his career with Arsenal but has been a Birmingham player since 2006, establishing himself as a first team regular. If the 25-year-old does join the Magpies then he will bring needed competition to the right of midfield. For much of the season Joey Barton has occupied the position with great success although his natural position is in the centre, while his main rival for the slot, Wayne Routledge, has struggled to establish himself in the top flight. Larsson offers good delivery from open play and set pieces, a skill that striker Andy Carroll thrives upon due to his aerial prowess.

Ahead of the upcoming derby with local rivals Sunderland the Magpies have suffered a blow with the news that Cheik Tiote will miss the game through suspension. Newcastle appealed the holding midfielder’s red card from the shock defeat to Stevenage Borough but it was unsuccessful. He will now miss Sunday’s crucial game followed by matches against Tottenham and Fulham. It is debatable whether Tiote should have been risked against Stevenage after being taken off in the midweek win over West Ham with a hamstring injury.

Midfielder Kevin Nolan is looking ahead to the derby match up with Sunderland after helping himself to a hat-trick the last time the two sides met. Nolan has warned his teammates to expect a backlash from Steve Bruce’s men who were embarrassed when they last met on Halloween. The club captain said: “The derby is going to be a classic. Obviously, they are a wounded animal after what happened here but it is up to us to go there and make sure we put in another professional performance. Hopefully if we do that, our game plan goes to plan.

In other news young defender Tamas Kadar has joined Huddersfield Town on loan to pick up some first team experience. The Hungarian, who can play at left back or central defence, has joined the League One high flyers for one month. So far this season Kadar has been restricted to appearances in the Carling Cup and is the fifth choice centre half. Newcastle have some strong links to Huddersfield with former player Lee Clark enjoying his first spell in management. He has been supported by the likes of Steve Watson and Terry McDermott who also share links to the Magpies. Meanwhile, summer signing Dan Gosling will get some match practice in a training ground friendly with Hibernian. The former Everton player is stepping up his recovery from a long-term injury.

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