The THREE signings that would cement Newcastle’s Championship charge

Matt KilgallonNewcastle are currently cruising in the Championship and have a comfortable lead over West Brom. However, the Magpies know better than anyone that a massive lead midway through the season means nothing when it comes to handing out trophies, with  United’s 1996 Premiership victory still fresh in the memory. And whilst Newcastle have a strong squad that is of a higher quality than most of their Championship rivals, there are still areas where their squad can be strengthened. But who should Hughton bring to St James’ in January to ensure that Newcastle make an immediate return to the Premier League?

Whether Newcastle just make loan signings in January or whether they target permanent transfers, there is much scope for players that the Toon could realistically bring in to freshen up the squad. Despite Newcastle having the best defensive record in the Championship this season, conceding just 12 goals in 21 games, the strength in depth of their defence is worryingly thin. If Zurab Khizanishvili returns to Blackburn in January as expected then Newcastle are just left with youngsters Tamas Kadar and Ben Tozer as back-up for the impressive Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini. Therefore a defender is an essential purchase, but should Newcastle go for youth or experience?

The two centre backs that have been linked with Newcastle in recent weeks are Sheffield United’s Matt Kilgallon and the unattached Sol Campbell. Kilgallon seems like the more sensible purchase, as the 25 year old has plenty of Championship experience and was named as the Blades’ Player of the Season in their last campaign. The former England U21 international would be available for a nominal fee of around £2 million, which would represent a reasonable bit of business for the Toon as Killa has much potential. Sol Campbell still remains the outside bet, but with interest from elsewhere, as well as salary and commitment issues, Newcastle would be advised to steer well clear of a risk they could do without right now.

The one criticism levelled at Newcastle this season has been their lack of creativity in central midfield. Alan Smith has done a tremendous job of mopping up in the centre of the park, and provides the perfect platform for a more attack minded colleague. One player who Chris Hughton has reportedly been scouting is Tom Cleverley, the youngster who has been raved about for his performances at Watford this season. Cleverley is likely to return to Man Utd in January after his loan spell at Vicarage Road as Watford face financial difficulties, though Sir Alex Ferguson may be reluctant to sell. Cleverley would bring a driving force to the Newcastle midfield, and his willingness to run at defenders would make him an instant hit with the Toon faithful.

The final piece of the Newcastle jigsaw could be an exciting loan signing, and a talented forward wouldn’t go amiss. Although Newcastle understandably quickly rubbished reports of a potential loan swap involving Steven Taylor and Man Utd’s Kiko Macheda, the prospect of the young Italian pulling on the black and white shirt is an interesting one. Macheda clearly has plenty of ability and the 18 year old would be keen for a platform on which he could showcase his talent, and Newcastle have already had success in United loanees in the form of Danny Simpson. Man City winger Vladimir Weiss finds himself in a similar situation to Macheda, and the 20 year old Slovakian would also bring hunger and competition to Newcastle’s attack.

The January transfer window may well be a quiet one for Newcastle, as the Magpies will be focused more on trying to keep their current squad together, rather than making wholesale changes. But Hughton will still be looking to make additions, and he could do much worse than bring Kilgallon, Cleverley and Macheda to St James’ Park, as Newcastle still remains an attractive proposition for many players. Amongst their realistic transfer targets, who would you like Newcastle to bring to the club in January?

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Article title: The THREE signings that would cement Newcastle’s Championship charge

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