Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Defence Still in Line of Fire

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Defence Still in Line of Fire

Article excerpt

Byline: By Stuart Rayner

Newcastle United manager Glenn Roeder says the search for a new striker has not distracted him from the task of reinforcing the club's leaky defence.

The Magpies' pre-season form was marred by poor defending, particularly in the games against PSV Eindhoven and Villarreal.

Although Roeder is furiously working to try and find a long-term replacement for Alan Shearer and a short-term one for the injured Michael Owen, he is also conscious of the need to draft in further defensive reinforcements, with Jean-Alain Boumsong's career on Tyneside seemingly drawing to a close.

Speaking on a BBC Radio Newcastle phone-in last night, the former centre-back was keen to stress he had not forgotten the area of the team which is his speciality.

"There were times last year that we definitely let ourselves down," Roeder admitted. "There were times last year when we defended poorly and if there is the opportunity to bring in someone who I think could strengthen our defence, and I'm allowed to do it, I will.

"The key thing is being safe and being a defender that can be trusted not to make mistakes. I think a lack of concentration cost us at times. We'll continue to look at what defenders we can bring in."

One defender United had looked at but decided against was Sol Campbell, who joined Portsmouth on a free transfer from Arsenal this summer. Roeder explained the decision was based largely on the centre-back's poor recent fitness record. "Sol Campbell cropped up in conversations," he admitted. "We looked at his record over the last couple of seasons and were surprised to find he'd only started 36 games in the last two seasons."

Nevertheless, signing a new striker remains the top priority and Roeder admitted he is as frustrated as the fans that Newcastle have reached mid-August without signing Shearer's replacement. …

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