More aggravation for troubled Toon

NEWCASTLE United face more off-field aggravation before taking on Ipswich Town in the Championship at Portman Road tomorrow (kick-off 5.30pm).

Elvin King

NEWCASTLE United face more off-field aggravation before taking on Ipswich Town in the Championship at Portman Road tomorrow (kick-off 5.30pm).

The troubled Toon fear a massive compensation pay-out to former boss Kevin Keegan and this could see them plunged into administration, and a ten-point penalty.

A Premier League independent arbitration panel - convened to hear Keegan's case for constructive dismissal - is scheduled to draw to a close today.

It is reported that a worst-case scenario could see second-in-the-table Newcastle face a bill of around �9million.

Relegation slashed the club's income - estimates of the drop vary between �35m and �50m - and a wage bill of �74m has been more than halved by a mass exodus of high-earners.

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The club and Keegan have been in dispute since the ex-England boss departed a year ago, allegedly in protest at the transfer policy which had presented him with Spanish striker Xisco and loan signing Ignacio Gonzalez.

The counter-argument is that he knew of the policy in advance and in walking out, broke his contract.

Chris Hughton retains the title of caretaker-manager and has done remarkably well to gain results with all the off-field activity that includes a well-publicised potential selling of the club.

“I am aware of everything that's been said, but as far as we are concerned, it is all speculation,” said Hughton.

“We can only deal with what we know are facts, and the most important fact for us at the moment is that we are playing Ipswich and want to get a result.”

Hughton has confirmed a three-month loan deal for Aston Villa striker Marlon Harewood.

Midfielder Joey Barton is ruled out with a foot injury and Danny Guthrie is suspended after being sent off at Peterborough on Tuesday.

Former Town loanee Danny Simpson is very doubtful while among others injured are striker Shola Ameobi and 19-year-old Hungarian defender Tamas Kadar.

Ipswich boss Roy Keane must decide whether to bring back defender Gareth McAuley after his one-match ban at Doncaster last weekend, but otherwise he is not expected to make many changes with a fit squad to select from.

Lincoln City caretaker-manager Simon Clark watched Town reserves in action in midweek with midfielder Colin Healy being linked with a loan move to the club.

Probable squads

Ipswich Town: R Wright, Rosenior, Bruce, Smith, McAuley, Delaney, Balkestein, D Wright, Edwards, Leadbitter, Quinn, Martin, Colback, Trotter, Peters, Walters, Counago, Stead, Priskin, Wickham, Lee-Barrett.

Newcastle United: Harper, S Taylor, Enrique, Simpson, Coloccini, Nolan, Geremi, Smith, Carroll, Lovenkrands, Butt, Krul, R Taylor, Ranger, Lua Lua, Khizanishvili, Harewood, Tozer, Donaldson, Vuckic.

Referee: Mr M Jones (Cheshire).