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Friday, January 25, 2008
Shearer turns down Magpies' number two role

Alan Shearer will not be returning to Newcastle as Kevin Keegan's number two.

However, he could yet be handed a significant role on Keegan's staff after holding lengthy talks with the new Magpies boss on Thursday night.

A Keegan-Shearer dream ticket was the talk of Tyneside in the immediate wake of Sam Allardyce's departure earlier this month, and the 56-year-old's admission he would be talking to the man for whom he paid 15million back in the summer of 1996 as he was officially unveiled a week ago sparked a fresh wave of optimism.

But the two men will meet again on Monday for fresh discussions having agreed that while the 37-year-old former England skipper could have a major part to play, it will not be as assistant manager.

Asked if he had spoken to Shearer, Keegan said: 'Yes I have.

'I had four hours in his company last night. We had an excellent meeting.

'We talked in detail about this club - I know all his views on it now, he knows all mine, and we will talk again on Monday.

'It was great to see him again because I haven't really been in contact with Alan for a year, and I think we both missed that.

'We will see what happens on Monday. It will not be as number two, I will tell you that.

'It will not be, and that's the conclusion we both came to. But it will be, if he decides to come in, a very worthwhile role.

'Alan doesn't come in here (to the training ground), he doesn't come in and around this place, and I would like to encourage the old players to come back.

'I used to get them all coming back at Manchester City.

'But Alan will come in, if he comes, and it will be a role that's worthwhile, or he will say, `No, not at the moment' because like we both said last night, if it is not worthwhile, let's not do it.That's where we are with it.'

The Shearer situation is not one which needs to be resolved urgently, however, with transfer deals to be done before next Thursday's deadline and the little matter of two visits to Arsenal to come inside four days.

Newcastle head for north London tomorrow for an FA Cup fourth round tie at the Emirates Stadium, and will return on Tuesday evening with three Barclays Premier League points at stake.

Keegan's preparations for tomorrow's game have had to be conducted at the same time as his efforts to strengthen a small squad, although he was giving little away amid speculation that Middlesbrough's Jonathan Woodgate, Tottenham's Pascal Chimbonda and Blackburn's David Bentley are among his targets.

He said: 'We have nobody in yet and it is not easy to get players in better than what we have got here.

'There are players there who possibly fit that criteria, but they are not available, so it is a case of trying to find someone who is available and fit the criteria we want, which is as good or better in some positions than what we have.'

In the meantime, Keegan will send his side out against a Gunners team still smarting from their 5-1 Carling Cup semi-final drubbing by arch-rivals Spurs insisting they will be under orders to have a go.

He said: 'We are going there to play them - you might think that's all I ever do.

'Trust me, if I thought it was right to go there and defend and block everybody behind the ball and try to have a backs-to-the-wall, 90-minute goalless draw, I would do it.

'But during my days at Liverpool, I learnt that if a team gave us 90 minutes to attack them in their half, one of us, with the ability we had, would open them up somewhere and create chances, or it might just be a deflection.

'We are going to play. That's what we will do and we will see how it goes.'

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