Pardew dismisses takeover talk
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has dismissed the constant stream of speculation surrounding the club to concentrate on the task of securing its Barclays Premier League status.
Newcastle continue to insist the business is no longer for sale, and point to the investment they have made in securing the long-term futures of the likes of midfielder Cheick Tiote, Steven Taylor, Mike Williamson and Nile Ranger in recent months as evidence of their strategy for lasting success.
And Pardew said: "We have dismissed that quite thoroughly, I don't expect that to raise its head again. Mike (Ashley) has made a commitment with these long-term contracts that he wants to see a plan going forward, and that's what we will try to carry out."
The first step in the process, of course, is ensuring the Magpies are still playing their football in the top flight next season, something which looked a racing certainty when a 2-0 victory at Birmingham on February 15 put them eight points clear of the drop zone.
However, a return of just one point from home clashes with Bolton and Everton has seen that gap reduced to just five points, and they head for Stoke on Saturday knowing the fight is far from over.
Pardew said: "Unfortunately, we haven't got the cup to distract us - there are only four teams in the Premier League who have that left.
"We are in the same boat as everyone else and we have to concentrate now to see ourselves to a strong finish, and that's what we are going to try to do."
Newcastle's plans have been disrupted by an injury to key midfielder Joey Barton, whose absence against Bolton and Everton was conspicuous to say the least.
The 28-year-old has a chance of returning from a thigh strain at the Britannia Stadium, but Pardew will not risk him if he is not 100% fit.
He has a headache too at left back with Jose Enrique rated as very doubtful because of a hamstring problem and possible emergency replacement Jonas Gutierrez also struggling with a similar injury.