Newcastle United manager Joe Kinnear appears to have conceded defeat in his battle to keep highly-rated goalkeeper Shay Given at the club and revealed that Manchester City are leading the race for his signature.
In December Given vented his frustration at the Magpies uncanny ability to lurch from one crisis to another and said, via his lawyer, that he wanted to leave the club after 11 years service at St James Park.
At the time Kinnear insisted the Republic of Ireland international was going nowhere but the Toon boss now admits that Given is on the brink of leaving the club for a "new challenge".
Kinnear told the Chronicle: "I've bent over backwards to keep Shay, and I have told the powers-that-be that he has got to stay. But I understand it from Shay's point of view."
"He's done 11 years here at Newcastle, and I think he wants a new challenge."
On Tuesday, Newcastle - who play City on Wednesday - denied that Steve Harper signing a new contract was linked to Given's possible departure, but it now looks like the 32-year-old will be heading to Eastlands.
Kinnear said: "It's out of my hands, and I am still waiting for the final outcome. But I think he wants a new challenge and that he wants to speak to Manchester City.
"I would be heartbroken to see him go, because he is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. But Man City keep banging on the door to talk to him."