ONSIDE: Transfer deadline clock ticking ominously for Newcastle United

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IT is not always easy to write this drivel.

Or I imagine to read it.

Just like it is not always easy watching Newcastle United.

There I was, for instance, mentally composing this column as Chelsea enjoyed a two-goal interval lead against struggling Southampton on Wednesday night.

So tight is the bottom of the Premier League that the Blues only needed one more goal to ensure that Newcastle moved above the Saints on goal difference.

“Ba helps Magpies rise up table” would have been the unlikely headline.

So unlikely that it did not happen as Southampton cancelled out strikes from Toon old boy Demba Ba and the over-rated Eden Hazard with two of their own in the second half.

The Magpies therefore remain in 16th place as they prepare to entertain second-bottom Reading in a proverbial “six-point battle” at St James’s Park on Saturday.

Exactly what these preparations consist of is anyone’s guess.

Manager Alan Pardew is presumably conducting both training and transfer negotiations as the club desperately seek points and players.

Every new day seems to unearth a new name, usually of a Gallic flavour, for the club to be linked with.

While this trend may have largely worked for Newcastle in recent years, I cannot help thinking that the club’s transfer policy is there to be occasionally broken.

Take reputed Sunderland target and Newcastle United fan Danny Graham.

He is not the fastest, skillful or most deadly striker going.

But the Swansea striker is sold alright and solid is certainly good enough for the current Magpies team.

I would far rather Newcastle bought a proven Premier League striker aged 27 and one presumably prepared to run through a brick wall for his team (albeit without breaking any speed limits) than a younger but untried foreigner.

What sell-on value, for instance, has Spanish flop Xisco provided as the £5.5m signing approaches the end of his five-year contract with just one-goal to his name?

Returning to Saturday’s plot, I still expect Pardew’s team to defeat Reading as they did relegation rivals Wigan and QPR recently.

I just hope any victory does not con the club into thinking that the existing squad can cope without further injections of black and white blood.

The transfer deadline day clock is ticking.

Fourteen days and falling. Or should that be failing.

– GAVIN LEDWITH

@GLedwithHMail