DANNY Simpson hopes to still be a Newcastle United player when the Europa League resumes next year.
Simpson won’t start the club’s final group stage game against Bordeaux at the Stade Chaban-Delmas tomorrow.
The 25-year-old will instead be kept fresh for Monday night’s Premier League game against Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Newcastle, already certain of passage through the group stage, won’t be back in European action again until February’s Round of 32.
In the meantime, Simpson’s future at St James’s Park remains in the balance.
The defender – whose contract runs out at the season – will be able to speak to clubs within weeks about a free transfer next summer.
And Simpson’s also expected to attract interest in next month’s transfer window.
Long-running talks over a new long-term deal at United broke down last season. But Simpson insists he isn’t eyeing an exit next month – and is already looking forward to the Europa League’s knockout stages.
Asked if he hoped he’d be at Newcastle for the Round of 32, Simpson said: “Yes, of course. I love playing in Europe. I’m enjoying every minute of it.
“Of course, it’s a while away yet, but if I have it my way, hopefully I’ll be playing in the next phase.”
Newcastle’s ultimately unsuccessful pursuit of Lille right-back Mathieu Debuchy last summer also raised questions about Simpson’s future at St James’s Park.
And Newcastle could return with another bid for Debuchy next month.
However, the France international recently insisted he wasn’t looking to leave the French club midway through the season.
Simpson arrived on Tyneside, initially on loan, from Manchester United in August, 2009.
The Salford-born player – whose has been the club’s first-choice right-back ever since his move from Old Trafford – has recently made front-page headlines for his relationship with X-Factor judge and singer Tulisa Contostavlos.
Tulisa took to social networking site Twitter after Newcastle beat Wigan 3-0 at St James’s Park on Wednesday night to end a run of four successive defeats. She tweeted: “Woohoo get in there lads!”
Meanwhile, Newcastle’s third-round FA Cup tie against Brighton and Hove Albion has been chosen for live broadcast by ITV1 – and will be screened at 12.30pm on Saturday, January 5.
That means an early start for fans intending to travel to the South coast for the game at the Amex Stadium, where the club was knocked out of the competition at the fourth-round stage last season.
H West Ham striker Andy Carroll has been interviewed by police in Ireland after a photographer was allegedly assaulted.
Carroll, who is currently on a season-long loan at West Ham from Liverpool and facing an eight-week lay-off due to a knee injury, was with team-mates in Dublin for a weekend Christmas party after the Hammers beat Chelsea 3-1 on Saturday.
Carroll, 23, denies any wrongdoing.
A spokesman for the Garda press office in Dublin said officers received a report of an incident at 2.30am on Monday.
A press photographer claimed he had been assaulted in the capital’s main shopping district, Grafton Street.
Officers at the city’s Pearse Street station are investigating the incident.
It is understood members of the West Ham football team were spoken to by gardai following reports of an assault.
No arrests were made, the Garda spokesman said.