Belfast Telegraph

Newcastle deny Liverpool striker Andy Carroll is set for return

By Damian Spellman

Newcastle have played down rumours that striker Andy Carroll could make a cut-price return to Tyneside.

Reports today suggested that the Magpies could offer their former frontman a £10million escape from Liverpool after a desperately difficult first 12 months on Merseyside.



However, sources in the north-east have insisted there has been no contact between the two clubs despite weeks of speculation that Carroll could return to Newcastle, where he made his name before winning a £35million switch to Anfield.



In addition, the word from the Carroll camp is that they have not been told that the Reds are looking to offload the 23-year-old England international, and they themselves are certainly not seeking an exit for him.



Newcastle, of course, had no intention of selling their 6ft 3in hitman in January last year until Liverpool put together a final-day offer they simply could not afford to ignore.



Their decision was greeted furiously by the Toon Army, who had hoped the club's future would be built around the Gateshead-born player, and their mood was not improved when a replacement failed to arrive.



The Magpies made the recruitment of a big-name striker their main priority for the summer, but having spent months running the rule over a series of targets on the Continent, were unable to strike a deal which suited them.



In the meantime, however, manager Alan Pardew had taken a gamble on Senegal international Demba Ba after a release-clause in his contract at West Ham had been activated by relegation.



Few predicted how handsomely that swoop would pay off with Ba having left for the African Nations Cup last week having scored 15 goals for the club to establish himself as one of the most prolific marksmen in the Barclays Premier League.



Ironically, the 26-year-old did so with speculation mounting that he could leave Newcastle during the winter transfer as news of a release-clause in his contract emerged.



Newcastle were furious that details of the player's contract had been made public, but remain relaxed on the situation, confident that Ba is happy where he is, although knowing they may have to re-negotiate his existing contract if they are to fend off understandable interest in his this month.



In any case, the deal they struck to take him to Tyneside was complicated, and any attempt to lure him away would have to cross similar hurdles.



Meanwhile, the Magpies have rekindled their interest in Paris St Germain's Mevlut Erding, one of the strikers they pursued throughout the summer.



Negotiations over the Turkey international broke down without resolution, although Pardew remains interested in the player despite admitting at the beginning of the month that a forward was unlikely to be among his winter targets.



Newcastle remain keen to land a central defender with Steven Taylor's season-ending Achilles injury further exposing their lack of strength in depth in that department.

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