NEWCASTLE United are ready to test Ipswich Town’s resolve to hold on to striker Connor Wickham this summer, writes MILES STARFORTH..
Wickham – who manager Alan Pardew signed as a youngster while at Reading – is being tracked by a number of Premier League clubs.
Pardew’s No.1 priority in the summer transfer window is striking talent, having lost talismanic No.9 Andy Carroll to Liverpool in January.
And 18-year-old Wickham – who has been watched by the club this season – is among Newcastle’s potential targets, Pardew and his chief scout Graham Carr having drawn up an extensive list of options at home and abroad in recent months.
Wickham last month signed a new deal at Ipswich, tying him to the Portman Road club until 2014.
But that is not expected to put off his suitors, and manager Paul Jewell has admitted the Championship side would have to listen to a sizeable offer.
Jewell said: “I’m not looking to sell Connor Wickham, and I don’t think Connor Wickham is looking to leave, but if someone came in with a silly offer, and he wanted to go, we would have to listen to it.”
Wickham, however, is reportedly settled at Ipswich, and could view another year of football in Suffolk as being the best option for his football education.
Certainly, Tottenham and Arsenal – among the clubs who have been credited with an interest in Whickham – would not be able to guarantee him regular first-team opportunities.
Meanwhile, another option for Pardew is Cardiff City’s Jay Bothroyd, who will be available on a free transfer in the summer if he doesn’t sign a new deal at the Welsh club.
The England international’s future, however, is seemingly bound up with Cardiff’s promotion bid, with Dave Jones’s side set for the Championship play-offs after being pipped for the second automatic place by Norwich.
Bothroyd has previously been on Newcastle’s transfer radar, but the striker’s age – he turns 29 tomorrow – could count against a summer bid.