DANNY Simpson hopes to still be a Newcastle United player when the Europa League resumes next year.
Simpson isn’t expected to start the club’s final group stage game against Bordeaux at the Stade Chaban-Delmas tomorrow.
The 25-year-old could instead be kept fresh for Monday night’s Premier League game against Fulham at Craven Cottage, such is the focus on improving the 14th-placed United’s position in the division.
Newcastle, already certain of passage through the group stage, won’t be back in European action again until February’s Round of 32.
In the meantime, Simpson’s future at St James’s Park remains in the balance.
The defender – whose contract runs out at the end of the season – will be able to speak to clubs within weeks about a free transfer next summer.
And Simpson’s also expected to attract interest in next month’s transfer window.
Long-running talks over a new long-term deal at United broke down last season.
But Simpson insists he isn’t eyeing an exit next month – and is already looking forward to the Europa League’s knockout stages.
Asked if he hoped he’d be at Newcastle for the Round of 32, Simpson told the Gazette: “Yes, of course.
“I love playing in Europe. I’m enjoying every minute of it.
“Of course, it’s a while away yet, but if I have it my way, hopefully, I’ll be playing in the next phase.”
United’s ultimately unsuccessful pursuit of Lille right-back Mathieu Debuchy last summer also raised questions about Simpson’s future at St James’s Park.
Newcastle could return with another bid for Debuchy next month.
However, the France international recently insisted he wasn’t looking to leave the French club midway through the season.
Simpson arrived on Tyneside, initially on loan, from Manchester United in August 2009.
The Salford-born player – whose has been the club’s first-choice right-back ever since his move from Old Trafford – has recently made front-page headlines for his relationship with X-Factor judge and singer Tulisa Contostavlos.
Tulisa took to social networking site Twitter after United beat Wigan Athletic 3-0 at St James’s Park on Wednesday night to end a run of four successive defeats.
She tweeted: “Woohoo get in there lads!”