NEWCASTLE United are weighing up a loan move for Aston Villa’s out-of-favour midfielder Stephen Ireland.
Manager Alan Pardew is understood to have registered an interest in Ireland, who is expected to leave Villa Park this month after being marginalised by Gerard Houllier.
However, any deal could hinge on Villa paying a chunk of Ireland’s wages, with the 24-year-old among the highest earners at the club.
And Newcastle – whose move for Birmingham City’s Sebastian Larsson broke down over the winger’s salary demands – are determined to keep a lid on the wage bill at St James’s Park.
Ireland moved to Villa as part of the deal which saw former Newcastle winger James Milner joing Manchester City last summer.
Cork-born Ireland was valued at £8m in the switch, but he has found his opportunities limited under Martin O’Neill’s successor Houllier, who is reportedly keen to take Blackpool’s Charlie Adam to Villa Park.
Meanwhile, Wayne Routledge’s move to Queens Park Rangers is still to be finalised.
The Magpies winger had travelled to London earlier in the week to complete a move to the Loftus Road club, and the proposed half-season loan deal had been expected to be finalised today.
However, the two clubs are still in talks, and Routledge might not sign in time to make his second QPR debut at home to Coventry City on Sunday.
Newcastle signed Routledge from the club a year ago, and yesterday he trained with Neil Warnock’s side, who lead the Championship. Routledge had found his opportunities limited this season, with Joey Barton having been outstanding on the right side of midfield.