JASON Puncheon is on Newcastle United’s transfer radar, writes Miles Starforth.
The midfielder, on loan at Blackpool from Southampton, played under manager Alan Pardew during his time in charge at the St Mary’s Stadium.
And Pardew has admitted he is monitoring Puncheon’s progress at Bloomfield Road.
The 24-year-old has scored two goals in his first three games in a blistering start to his time at Blackpool.
Croydon-born Puncheon scored against Everton on his debut and netted against Premier League champions Chelsea in his last game.
His form under Ian Holloway hasn’t gone unnoticed at St James’s Park, where Pardew and his staff are identifying possible summer transfer targets.
And Pardew has admitted his interest in Puncheon, who can play on the flanks or as a striker.
However, should he attempt to sign Puncheon from his former club, Pardew would face competition, not least from Blackpool should they stay in the Premier League.
“Jason was somebody I scooped from MK Dons for a really good price,” Pardew said.
“He’s done extremely well and he’s a player I’ll keep an eye on.
“He’s at Blackpool at the moment and whether there’s an opportunity to come here will be determined by what he does at Blackpool.”
Pardew has the £35m banked from the sale of Andy Carroll in January to “reinvest” in his team and is looking to sign four or five players to strengthen his squad, which is paper-thin in places.
However, it’s unlikely the whole fee will be spent on transfer fees.
Instead, a proportion is expected to be spent on contracts, though that should still allow Pardew – who could let one or more players go – to substantially strengthen his squad, with a replacement for Carroll the number one priority.
Pardew is also braced for bids from Jose Enrique in the summer, with the left back yet to enter substantive talks on a new deal.
Meanwhile, Pardew’s staff were still assessing Enrique and Joey Barton today ahead of Saturday’s visit to Stoke City, with the pair struggling with their respective hamstring and thigh injuries.
H LEON Best’s renaissance at the club has not gone unnoticed by Republic of Ireland coach Giovanni Trappatoni.
Trappatoni has called up Best for their Euro 2012 qualifier against Macedonia on March 26, and their friendly against Uruguay three days later.
The 24-year-old’s goals have been crucial in steadying United in the wake of Andy Carroll’s sale to Liverpool.
“Fair play to him, he’s earned it,” boss Alan Pardew said. “He’s got five goals and deserves his call.”