Newcastle target centre-half

SAINTS ALIVE ... Paul Dummett (black and white strip) goes up for a header against Celtic.
SAINTS ALIVE ... Paul Dummett (black and white strip) goes up for a header against Celtic.

NEWCASTLE United won’t let their chase for striker Loic Remy distract their attention away from their desire to also sign a centre-half this month.

The Magpies are hoping to take a step closer to signing Marseille star Remy as a replacement for Demba Ba.

But their need for defensive reinforcements is also evident, with the backline that was so solid last season having shipped numerous goals this term.

Alan Pardew did have a centre-half at the top of his shopping list this month, though Ba’s departure has meant a slight shift in focus.

However, SportMail understands that chief scout Graham Carr has been identifying possible defensive targets in France and Holland.

Right-back Mathieu Debuchy has already signed this transfer window, and centre-half Steven Taylor is close to a comeback, though he is unlikely to be fit for Saturday’s trip to Norwich City.

But with James Perch joining Ryan Taylor and Danny Simpson on the treatment table, and captain Fabricio Coloccini carrying a knock that ruled him out of the FA Cup defeat at Brighton, Newcastle’s defensive options are limited.

Coloccini is hopeful of being fit for the trip to Norwich, while Debuchy should make his debut, but the injury situation has meant that Pardew has blocked a bid by St Mirren to take Paul Dummett back on loan.

The SPL side had wanted the left-footed defender to return immediately to Paisley, where he has spent the last four months.

But Dummett – surprisingly handed his debut at half-time against Brighton – is expected to be on the bench against Chris Hughton’s Canaries this weekend.

Dummett was left out of the Toon reserve squad that lost 3-2 against Bedlington Terriers last night in the Northumberland Senior Cup, while fellow youngster Shane Ferguson was included, suggesting that Dummett has overtaken the Derry lad in the pecking order at United.

St Mirren remain keen resurrect the loan deal before the window closes, and ideally want Dummett back for their Scottish League Cup semi-final with Celtic on January 27, but any deal will be dependent on Newcastle’s injuries and transfer business.

Ferguson, meanwhile, opened the scoring for the second string last night with a free-kick, but Bedlington came storming back to take a 3-1 lead thanks to goals from Mark Convery, Mark Doninger and Richard Pell.

A strong Newcastle team, which included another four players with first-team experience this season – Mehdi Abeid, Nile Ranger, Romain Amalfitano and Adam Campbell – pulled a goal back through substitute JJ Hooper, but Northern League side Bedlington held on to reach the semi-finals.