Soccer: Cole linked to shock Tyneside return

Tyneside was buzzing tonight amid claims that Newcastle have launched a bid to bring striker Andy Cole back to St James’ Park.

Tyneside was buzzing tonight amid claims that Newcastle have launched a bid to bring striker Andy Cole back to St James’ Park.

The news spread like wildfire after a report claimed the Magpies had tabled an offer for the 29-year-old, who made his name in the north-east.

Neither Manchester United nor Newcastle were prepared to comment on the speculation this afternoon.

Cole has been forced onto the replacements’ bench for United’s first two games of the season as Sir Alex Ferguson paired up £19million summer signing Ruud van Nistelrooy and attacking midfielder Paul Scholes.

Rumours have been rife that either Yorke who has himself been linked with a move to St James’ or Cole could be on their way out of Old Trafford as Ferguson goes all-out for glory in his final season in the job.

Magpies’ boss Bobby Robson insisted on Sunday he was happy with the striking options he already has in the shape of Alan Shearer, Carl Cort, Craig Bellamy, Shola Ameobi and Lomana Lua Lua amid speculation he was leading the chase for Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler.

Asked if he would be interested in the England striker, Robson replied: ‘‘No I wouldn’t because in Shearer, Cort, Bellamy, Shola and Lua Lua we have five strikers, and I’m happy in that department. That wouldn’t be my priority.’’

However, that was before yesterday’s devastating news that Cort, who damaged a knee in a practice match last Wednesday, will be out of action for at least three months.

Shearer is likely to play some part in Sunday’s Tyne-Wear derby clash with Sunderland after continuing his rehabilitation with two goals in a 45-minute run-out against a Hartlepool United XI yesterday, while £10m Frenchman Laurent Robert will make his home Premiership debut in the same game.

With Kieron Dyer also on the mend and Bellamy starting to justify his £6m price tag, United seem to have options.

But Tuesday night’s European disappointment has left the Tynesiders without football on the big stage for another season, they may have decided to up the stakes in an effort to increase their chances of a top-six finish.

What is not in doubt is that Robson, who has invested £16m during the summer, still has some of his transfer kitty left.

United had a £7.5m bid for Dutch winger Boudewijn Zenden on the table at the same time as they were pushing through the Robert deal with Paris St Germain, although Chelsea won the race to sign the Barcelona man.

But the Magpies are being linked with £3.5m-rated PSG central defender Sylvain Distin, and that is perhaps a greater priority after conceding four goals to let French side Troyes snatch a UEFA Cup berth.

Cole would undoubtedly be a popular recruit after playing a major role in the near-glory days of the Kevin Keegan era.

The former Arsenal trainee arrived at St James’ from Bristol City in a £1.75m move in March 1993, and scored 68 goals in just 84 appearances for the club before a £6m move to Old Trafford with Keith Gillespie heading in the opposite direction.

Keegan pleaded with fans too trust him as they saw their prize asset walk out of the door, and their patience was rewarded when first Les Ferdinand and then Faustino Asprilla and eventually, Shearer, arrived to soften the blow.

And there is little doubt that he would be granted a hero’s welcome if he returned, despite tormenting his former club on the field ever since he left.

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