Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Warnock Will Not Be Moved; United's Bid for Blackburn Defender Looks Doomed

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Warnock Will Not Be Moved; United's Bid for Blackburn Defender Looks Doomed

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK DOUGLAS

BLACKBURN Rovers will resist any improved offer from St James's Park for defender Stephen Warnock, who continues to interest Newcastle United despite the club having an initial bid of pounds 3m rejected, writes MARK DOUGLAS.

Kevin Keegan needs to add to his options at left-back, where Jose Enrique improved markedly as the season progressed, and 26-year-old Warnock was viewed as a good option by United's recruitment team.

An offer was put to Rovers but Blackburn chairman John Williams, eager to prove that Rovers retain the ambition that saw them on the verge of European qualification last season, is adamant that the club will not sell their former Liverpool defender.

That will come as a disappointment for Newcastle, who are prepared to make a second and improved offer for Warnock.

Although Warnock appeared unsettled in the wake of Mark Hughes' departure earlier in the summer, the defender has since signed a new contract and is highly unlikely to agitate for a move away - which will force United to look for other targets as they bid to strengthen their back four.

United need to strengthen if they are to achieve their aim of challenging for a place in Europe next season - something that was made clear in comments from long-serving goalkeeper Steve Harper yesterday when he admitted that the dressing room felt "sparse" after the summer departures. The difficulties faced by Keegan and his recruitment team of executive director (football) Dennis Wise and scout Jeff Vetere were underlined further by Pablo Aimar's decision to join Benfica rather than United.

The Aimar saga will have brought back unwelcome memories of United's ultimately futile pursuit of Luka Modric, where the Magpies' interest eventually smoked out Spurs and Keegan and company were left frustrated.

While Keegan would have preferred to be further along the line with his recruitment efforts, time remains firmly on his side ahead of the August 17 kick-off at Manchester United. …

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