Newcastle United boss Sam Allardyce today all but gave the green light to the clutch of clubs chasing Shola Ameobi's signature as he confirmed he would look to sell some of his fringe players.
It is a piece of news that will certainly have Canary boss Glenn Roeder pricking up his ears with distinct interest. Ameobi has long figured high on top of his wish-list only for Allardyce to initially rule out any loan move for the one-time England Under-21 striker.
Now, however, 'Big Sam' appears to have softened his stance with Ameobi reported to have grown increasingly disillusioned with life at St James' Park.
Not wholly surprising given that Allardyce has granted him just one Premiership start this season – and that against bottom-of-the-table Derby County. Ameobi's last appearance of any kind came on the 25 September. Since then he has been firmly sat on the sidelines and reportedly missed this weekend's FA Cup draw at Stoke City with a slight knee injury.
If anyone falls under the category of 'fringe player' at Newcastle right now it is the strapping 6ft 2in striker. Hence Allardyce's announcement today that he would listen to offers – even if he drew the line at West Ham United target Steven Taylor and Manchester City favourite Obafemi Martins.
“I do not want to lose any players really, but I'm in the same boat as everyone else,” Allardyce said. “If a large enough offer is made for one of my fringe players, and we can use the money to bring in a replacement who will strengthen the side, then we will look at it.
“If clubs are interested, and I'm not specifically talking about Shola Ameobi or anyone else for that matter, then they have to come up with a sizeable bid.”
Norwich, of course, will not be the only show in town.
Across at the Reebok, new Trotters boss Gary Megson has already been linked to Ameobi's signature as he starts to make plans for a life without Nicolas Anelka – still widely expected to join Chelsea this window.
Likewise, Middlesborough boss Gareth Southgate has been keeping close tabs on the Ameobi situation as goal-shy Boro' look to find the goals that they need to blast them out of relegation trouble. It would also allow Ameobi to stick close to his North-East home.
But while both Bolton and Boro' offer Ameobi the chance to stay in the Premiership, neither club can pull the friendship strings that Norwich now can. After all, City No2 Lee Clark actually coached a nine-year-old Ameobi as a teenager when the long-time St James' favourite was starting his coaching career early with Walker Central Boys Club.
Likewise Ameobi could arrive with a big pal in Roeder who had watched the Nigerian-born striker develop into a first team regular in his initial role as Newcastle United's youth development chief before, of course, becoming United boss himself.
Throw in Matty Pattison's full-time arrival and the black-and-white blood that courses through Paul Stephenson's veins and Norfolk's growing 'Geordie Nation' would welcome Ameobi with open arms – if the price were to be right.
And that, of course, is where the stumbling block will come – on the price that Allardyce will put on Ameobi's head. And the wages that Ameobi would expect to command. If anyone wanted to flush out the real level of the Turners' financial commitment to the Canaries, then this could be both the moment – and the player – to do it.
In the meantime, at least one national tabloid had the two East Anglian rivals squaring up for a fight over another potential January transfer window target – Blues centre-half Martin Taylor.
For after finding their names locked together for first David Norris at Plymouth and then Paul Parry at Cardiff, reports today suggested that Jim Magilton may yet look to prise 'Tiny' out of Roeder's clutches as he hot-foots it to Karren Brady's door with the Marcus Evans cash to splash.
Given the nature of that particular chief executive beast, the Blues supremo might enjoy nothing more than dangling a Taylor deal in front of City's biggest rivals as QPR take their Formula One millions elsewhere in the shape of Wigan's Fitz Hall and Arsenal youngster Matthew Connolly.
That Taylor is being bundled out of the door somewhere this window appears in no doubt. Re-read Rowan Vine's remarks to the Birmingham Evening Mail tonight following his own switch to QPR and it is clear that both he and Taylor never had much chance of surviving the in-coming Alex McLeish regime.
“A few of the lads at Birmingham probably felt that under a new regime they might get a chance, as I did,” said Vine today. “I had one chat with him, which lasted about two minutes.
“He said he had never seen me play and although it might seem a bit harsh, I would not be needed. He wants players he knows already or fancies, and many managers are like that when they come into a new club. I admired his honesty, I couldn't argue with it, although obviously I didn't necessarily agree with his opinion.”
Though Taylor refused to be drawn on the matter, it was clear that 'Tiny' had exactly the same conversation with McLeish in the midst of his own loan spell at Carrow Road.
“I would love to have had a chance to impress him, but that wasn't going to be happen,” said Vine. “I've probably fallen victim to the fact that I was out on loan when he came here.
“He's been able to have a look at a lot of players in the games so far but I wasn't around, and he made his mind up about who to keep and those he is familiar with to bring in. I'm just happy that I've come out of it with my reputation still in tact and I've joined a club where I know I'm wanted and where I'm going to play.”
In theory, for 'Rowan Vine' and 'QPR', you ought to be able to read 'Martin Taylor' and 'Norwich City'; in practice, of course, life has never been that straight-forward. Not when you put both Ms Brady and Ipswich Town into the same melting pot as the Canaries.
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