North-East latest: Wickham wanted by Newcastle; Sunderland close to more signings

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We bring you the latest news from Newcastle United, Sunderland and Middlesbrough.

1) Connor Wickham of interest to Newcastle United

Connor Wickham’s Sunderland future has been plunged into further doubt after reports emerged that Newcastle United could be in the hunt for his signature.

The striker was reportedly warned this week that he had to sign a new deal in the imminent future or risk being sold by the Black Cats and it seems that their rivals could be looking to take advantage of this.

Wickham, who was a major reason behind Sunderland’s successful survival bid last season, has just one year left on his deal and the Black Cats are determined to not risk losing him a free.

And, as a result, Newcastle are said to be lining up a £6million offer for the powerful young forward.

If he was to move to St. James’ Park he would be the second player to complete the controversial switch this summer – after Jack Colback completed a move from Wearside to Tyneside earlier in the transfer window.

2) Alan Pardew admits mistake

Alan Pardew has taken the blame for his Newcastle United side’s 3-1 defeat in a friendly against Malaga yesterday.

Pardew partnered new signing Ayoze Perez and youngster Adam Armstrong up-front together for the pre-season clash and he says that the inexperience of the duo meant that the Magpies struggled against the La Liga side.

“I blame myself for that defeat. I put two young lads up the top and maybe it was too much inexperience to cope with a team like Malaga,” Pardew said.

“I’m kicking myself because I should have had a bit more experience on. It’s important that our senior players are ready to go.

“I take full responsibility for that first half. It was perhaps a bit too young.”

3) Gus Poyet hoping for more signings

Gus Poyet says that Sunderland are closing in on deals for more players, as he looks to strengthen his side ahead of the upcoming season.

Last week Poyet spoke of his desire to bring in four new additions to bolster his squad this summer and it seems that he could be close to getting his wish.

He said: "There are plenty of things going on and I'm looking forward to things happening in the next few days, so it's all positive. I think we have a great chance [of signing players], a great chance.

"People are going to be surprised, which is great. It's all positive. We've had a few things that before we knew it they didn't work. But I'm hoping there's going to be some good news over the next two or three days."

4) Poyet happy with Sunderland form

Sunderland manager Poyet says that he is happy with the way his side acquitted themselves against Vitoria Setubal in their most recent pre-season friendly.

The Black Cats drew 0-0 against the Portuguese side yesterday, but Poyet is not concerned about his side’s failure to win – as he is more focused on the level of performances at this stage of the team’s preparations for the competitive Premier League season.

“Like I said before the results don’t matter, it’s more about the way we play, the way we pass the ball and how the players get themselves into positions,” he said. “And today the players got in great positions and did very well.

“We were very good in the first half; we showed good control on the ball and had lots of possession.

“The game was a perfect opportunity for the players to continue working on the fitness and preparing for the season.”

5) Aitor Karanka encouraged by Middlesbrough performance

Middlesbrough boss, Aitor Karanka, has been encouraged by his side’s display against Spanish outfit, Villarreal.

The Championship side went down 2-0 against their illustrious La Liga opponents, but Karanka is not bothered by the defeat – saying that their performance proved they were able to compete against the very best.

“The scoreline is always important, of course, but the performance was good,” he said.

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“We played against a very good team and you could see the difference. Their players are top players, they finished the season in sixth position in Spain.

“The most important thing for me is my players showed they can compete against anybody.”

Would Wickham be a good buy for Newcastle? Who do you hope Sunderland sign this season?

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