NEWCASTLE United are on the brink of signing Charlton goalkeeper Rob Elliot to replace Fraser Forster – and hope to have him on the bench for Saturday’s Wear-Tyne derby.
With efforts to seal a double deal for a left-back and striker described as “ongoing” by club sources, United instead made a breakthrough in an unlikely department, by brokering a deal for 25-year-old Elliot.
The Addicks shot-stopper has played more than 100 games at The Valley, starting in all three of Charlton’s Championship wins so far this season. He is in the final year of his contract.
United will use him as deputy to Tim Krul after Forster headed back to Celtic on a season-long loan which includes an option to buy him permanently at the end of the campaign.
Celtic boss Neil Lennon confirmed a deal was in place yesterday afternoon, saying he was “delighted” to have the goalkeeper back in the SPL.
Although highly-rated at Newcastle, there have been doubts among senior staff about his rate of progression since returning from Celtic – and an error-strewn performance in a pre-season friendly defeat at Leeds effectively ended his challenge to be number one. “He has been the main target since the end of last season,” Lennon said.
“We did put a bid in, but it was knocked back. But we worked hard in the background to try to bring him in so I’m very, very pleased.”
Quite where the move leaves United’s long-serving goalkeeper Steve Harper is another matter.
Pardew explained that Harper volunteered the number two slot to Forster at the weekend to help his development – but signing another keeper casts fresh doubt on his Newcastle future.
As moves for a new goalkeeper progress, United’s number one striker target, Mobido Maïga has refused to play for Sochaux in their Europa League tie tonight.
He has been banished to train with the reserves since refusing to play in his club’s Ligue 1 fixture against Caen at the weekend and is determined to force through a £7million deal in the face of Sochaux rejecting an initial offer.
The 23-year-old Mali international said: “I am sorry for the fans, my team-mates and the staff, but I am not in the best condition to play. It is better for the team to get focused well that I don’t play.
“About Newcastle, it is very clear: they want me and I want to go there. They want the transfer to be sorted out quickly,
but it is not up to me. The worry is Sochaux.”
Meanwhile, as United step up recruitment efforts the Wear-Tyne derby looms large on the horizon. Current No 1 Krul says United will draw confidence from last season’s dominance of Sunderland as they head towards such a big game.
“We have a lot of confidence from what happened last season, and we’ll also take quite a bit of confidence from our performance against Arsenal,” the Holland goalkeeper said. “Last season, we beat them convincingly at St James’, and we should have got another win at their ground. Hopefully, we can use that in our favour.
“We are ready to take them on and we will be travelling there looking to defend a pretty good record in the recent derby games.”
A United second team beat Gateshead yesterday afternoon with Sylvain Marveaux thrusting himself into the frame for a derby role with a goal and two assists.
The winger, joined by two trialists from French club Lens – William Rémy and Darnel Situ-Buyente – played the full 90 minutes, along with Shane Ferguson, who was returning from a pre-season injury suffered at Darlington.
Centre-back or right-back Remy, 20, is a former French Under-17, Under-18 and Under-19 international.
Rouen-born centre-back or holding midfielder Situ-Buyente, 19, is of Congolese descent, but has represented France at Under-16, Under-17, Under-18 and Under-19 level.