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New interest in want-away Bent

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Darren Bent will once again attract the interest of Newcastle United this summer after Charlton manager Alan Pardew admitted he will not be able to hold on to the England international if they are relegated.


Bent was one of manager Glenn Roeder's main transfer targets last summer but United refused to meet the Addicks' £12m asking price and eventually decided to pay £10m for 17-goal top scorer Obafemi Martins.


The Magpies were also linked with the 23-year-old in January, but were once again put off by the asking price, as well as Pardew's reluctance to sell midway through the season.


But with the south London club almost certain to be relegated in the next fortnight, clubs are already jostling for position to snap up the highly-rated striker.


"That has been the situation of players coming out of the Premiership and is usually the situation in terms of the top players," said Pardew when asked if the sale of Bent was inevitable in the summer. "I was at West Ham when they tried to hang on to Jermain Defoe and that didn't work out."


Bent has already told Pardew he does not want to remain at the Valley if they are playing in the Championship and Charlton are likely to accept a bid of around £10m.


But Newcastle - who have also been linked with Liverpool's Peter Crouch - will face stiff competition from Tottenham Hotspur.


Spurs are also interested in United midfielder Kieron Dyer and have not denied stories they are prepared to make a bid for him in the summer, but manager Martin Jol has shown an interest in Bent in the past.


United, though, will use Michael Owen as a bargaining tool and Bent will know a successful partnership with Owen at club level would do wonders for his international prospects.


However, despite Newcastle's apparent need for a fourth striker next season, there have been suggestions Roeder is more interested in signing defenders and is tempted to risk using teenager Andrew Carroll as the club's fourth centre-forward after his impressive performances for the Academy and Reserve teams.


That would free-up funds to invest elsewhere, with a left-back and two centre-backs thought to be Roeder's main priority, presuming he is still manager.


This week has seen continued speculation about Roeder's future, with some reports suggesting the former Bolton Wanderers boss Sam Allardyce will take over at the end of the season. These have not been publicly denied by chairman Freddie Shepherd, although those close to Roeder are adamant he has been assured his position is safe following talks last week.


Meanwhile, Obafemi Martins has admitted he was frightened when he signed for Newcastle as he knew he had to try and replace Alan Shearer.


Martins has been a rare success for United this season with 17 goals and, although the Nigerian international has looked jaded in recent weeks having scored just once in his last eight games, big things are still expected of the 22-year-old next season. Martins lined up alongside Michael Owen for the first time in the 1-0 defeat at Reading and, while there are doubts about the long-term suitability of that partnership, the former Inter Milan prospect feels he has settled well at St James's Park.


He said: "I have been happy with my first season, but it was never going to be easy. Wearing the Newcastle number nine shirt is difficult because everyone knows the history behind it. They had Alan Shearer before I came here and he is a legend. When I first arrived I was scared about it because he is such a big name, but now I feel great and want to finish the season on a high."


Martins will be in the same team as Owen for a second time against Blackburn Rovers tomorrow, although Roeder may rest him with Shola Ameobi starting his first game since November.


Martins added: "I have happy memories of playing Blackburn - we won 3-1 and I scored two goals. Now we have to play them again in an important game and we have to go out and get the same result because we really need the points.


"I remember the two goals and I was pleased with them, but now we have to play again so I cannot think about them too much. We lost our last game at Reading so we need to go out and get a good result."

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If the Allardyce stuff is true then you'd have to take any transfer rumours involving us with a pinch of salt. Shepherd is probably replying to all of Roeder's suggested targets with "Yeah sounds good Glenn, stick him on the list. He might be expensive? Don't worry about it son. I've got someone on the other line here Glenn, so I'll have to go....yep.....bye....*click* You still there Sam?"

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