Roeder used Boro FA Cup tie as spying mission

February 19, 2007

Newcastle boss Glenn Roeder has revealed he used a scouting mission to derby rivals Middlesbrough to run the rule over one of his potential summer transfer targets.

Roeder was in the crowd at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday as he prepared for the Teessiders' short trip to St James' Park on March 3.

However, Boro's FA Cup fifth round clash with Coca-Cola Championship promotion chasers West Brom also gave him a chance to have a close look at central defender Curtis Davies.

The Magpies boss and number two Nigel Pearson, who knows 21-year-old Davies well from his own time at the Hawthorns, were at Molineux last month to see the Baggies dump Wolves out of the same competition, and Roeder kept an eye on him once again.

It proved an eventful afternoon for the England Under-21 international, who was booked after conceding a first-half penalty for a tug on Ayegbeni Yakubu and was then dismissed a minute from time for wrestling Mark Viduka to the ground, although his side managed to hang on for a creditable 2-2 draw.

Roeder's policy is not to identify specific targets, although he admitted Boro were not his only focus.

He said: 'I was at The Riverside on Saturday. We play Middlesbrough at St James' Park a week on Saturday and it was a good opportunity for me to have a look at them.

'In addition, it also gave me the chance to run the rule over a couple of players at West Brom we have shown an interest in in the past.'

Roeder suffered a frustrating January transfer window during which, despite casting his net far and wide, he managed to land only loan signing Oguchhi Onyewu.

Davies, Peter Crouch, Anton Ferdinand and Dean Ashton are names which are thought to appear high on his summer wish-list, when he hopes chairman Freddy Shepherd will release the purse strings.

Roeder was allowed to invest £15million in striker Obafemi Martins and winger Damien Duff last summer and bring Antoine Sibierski in on a free transfer but, with predecessor Graeme Souness having got through £50million during his ill-fated reign, there was little left in the coffers when the window re-opened.

Roeder has been delighted with his signings to date - he believes Sibierski, who scored his eighth goal of the season in the 3-1 UEFA Cup win over Zulte Waregem last week, could be one of the bargains of the season - but has very definite ideas about his recruitment plans.

He said: 'We will be looking at a lot of players between now and the start of next season, and they will be young players aged 25 and under.

'I do not want to bring in big names who are past their shelf-life, but players who have their best days in front of them.'

In the meantime, Newcastle will set about the task of cementing their place in the last 16 of the UEFA Cup when Belgian side Zulte head for Tyneside on Thursday night.

Last week's victory at the Jules Otten Stadium all but booked them a meeting with either Fenerbahce or AZ Alkmaar - who drew 3-3 in Istanbul 24 hours earlier - in the next round.

However, there is still work to be done and, while Roeder could be tempted to rest key players ahead of Sunday's Barclays Premiership trip to struggling Wigan, he knows he will have to find the right balance to prosper on both fronts.