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Thursday, January 12, 2006
Given committed to Magpies

Newcastle keeper Shay Given hopes to stay on Tyneside amid mounting speculation over his future.

The 29-year-old Irishman is currently in talks over a new contract and has insisted he is puzzled by reports suggesting he is ready to quit St James' Park for a move to Spain.

'I saw the reports, but I'm not sure where they came from,' he told the club's website. 'I think I did an interview about a year or so ago saying I might fancy a couple of years in Spain, and it's obviously been brought up again because I only have a few months left on my contract.

'I'm in talks about about my contract at the moment, so we'll see how that goes and hopefully it will be sorted so I can stay here for a long time.'

Given has been one of the club's most consistent performers since Kenny Dalglish paid Blackburn 1.5million for his services during the summer of 1997.

Like captain Alan Shearer, the only current regular who has been at St James' longer than him, he is desperate to mark his stay with a trophy after several near-misses.

He admitted earlier this season that tangible success is something he desperately needs before he retires, and although unlike Shearer, time is on his side, that has prompted speculation he could move in a bid to fulfil his dreams.

That is something neither manager Graeme Souness nor chairman Freddy Shepherd would want to countenance, and both will hope they can persuade the Lifford-born stopper to commit himself to the club once again.

Souness is currently assessing limited options for strengthening his squad during the January transfer window, and while the goalkeeping position is one he will hope he can leave alone despite number two Steve Harper's burning desire for first-team football, he is hoping to do business elsewhere.

However, he has already hinted that he will have to sell before he can buy after investing 50million of Shepherd's cash in new signings in the last 12 months, and with injuries having depleted his pool of players severely in recent weeks, that may be easier said than done.

Unsettled midfielder Lee Bowyer remains the main candidate with Charlton and Birmingham are monitoring his progress, although the possibility of Danny Murphy travelling in the opposite direction has established the Addicks as slight favourites.

But that may depend on Alan Curbishley's willingness to do a straight swap, with the Magpies unwilling to pay the 2.5million difference the Londoners are understood to want having rejected the possibility of Amady Faye being used as a makeweight in the deal.

In the meantime, Souness will take his players to Fulham on Saturday with Michael Owen, Scott Parker, Kieron Dyer, Steven Taylor and Craig Moore still missing, Faye away on international duty and Shola Ameobi remaining a doubt.

Bowyer is available again after serving a three-match ban but it is to Turkey international Emre the Scot will hope to be able to turn after a seven-game absence with a hamstring problem.

'You could talk about several players with whom we feel extremely frustrated by their situations, but we have only seen Emre in glimpses and only seen glimpses of what he's capable of,' he said.

'People have been excited by that and we have to get him playing week in, week out.'

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