Ireland close to Newcastle switch
Aston Villa midfielder Stephen Ireland was undergoing a medical at Newcastle as the Magpies closed in on a loan deal.
It is understood the 24-year-old was in the north-east as manager Alan Pardew looked to bolster his squad for the remainder of the season.
There was no official confirmation from the club, but sources on Tyneside are hopeful that a deal can be struck ahead of Monday night's transfer deadline.
Ireland would become Pardew's second January signing after Frenchman Hatem Ben Arfa completed a permanent move despite not playing since suffering a double leg fracture just four games into a season-long loan deal.
His addition would come as a welcome boost with Alan Smith having been ruled out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury and star striker Andy Carroll struggling to shake off a thigh problem.
Cork-born Ireland, who has maintained his self-imposed exile from international football despite a series of approaches from boss Giovanni Trapattoni, has struggled to rediscover his best form since making an £8million switch to Villa from Manchester City last summer.
He made his debut for the midlands club at St James' Park on August 22, and it was a day he will remember with little pleasure as Newcastle romped to a 6-0 win in which Carroll scored his first Barclays Premier League hat-trick.
If the move goes through, Ireland could make his debut at Fulham on Wednesday evening.