Ireland’s Alan Judge set for Newcastle United medical
Midfielder recovering from serious leg injury but swapping Brentford for St James’ Park
Brentford and Ireland midfielder Alan Judge is set to undergo a medical at Newcastle United. Photograph: Getty
With the 27 year-old still two months or more away from a return to competitive action, the timing of Newcastle’s move for the Dubliner came as something of a surprise but reflects Rafael Benitez’s determination to bolster his side’s push to be promoted straight back to the premier league with some proven Championship campaigners.
Judge was named in last year’s team of the year for the division and only narrowly missed out on being named its best player to Burnley’s Andre Gray after a season in which he scored 14 goals and laid on almost as many again before suffering serious injury at the start of April.
He had been expected to make a major move earlier in the summer although the seriousness of the injury - a double leg break - had appeared to put that on hold. Now, however, Newcastle have moved to tie up a deal for the player well before he returns to full fitness and other clubs can add competition for his signature in January.
Judge’s rehabilitation is said to have been progressing well with the player back doing some light running on grass before having an operation to remove screws from his leg last week. Clearly a long way from fully fit, it might yet be early November before he is paying again although the target is for an October return, there is confidence that he will do enough to persuade the medical staff at Newcastle that he is on course to make a full recovery.
With his contract due to expire at the end of this season, a move was always on the cards at some stage and Brentford are likely to be relieved to be in a position to get a fee for him at a time when the club has been struggling to make signings.
Newcastle are also one of the clubs to have been linked with a move for James McCarthy whose future at Everton looks increasingly precarious after a start to the season in which he has been played out of position and substituted during the first half of a game.
New manager Ronald Koeman appears to see Gareth Barry and Idrissa Gana Gueye as his preferred partnership in central midfield leaving McCarthy, not to mention Darron Gibson, facing the prospect of a lot of time out in the cold.
McCarthy would seem to have Premier League options with several clubs believed to be interested but Gibson’s are less certain and after the player signed a two year contract extension at the start of the summer it is not at all clear what the former Manchester United player will do.
Aiden McGeady, meanwhile, is clearly surplus to requirements and needs to get away from Goodison if he is to get playing time. Last season he won praise from Martin O’Neill for dropping down a division in order to join Sheffield Wednesday on loan but that ended up turning sour with the midfielder ultimately left out of the club’s squad for their Championship play-off final defeat by Hull City.
Former Everton defender Shane Duffy returned to the Blackburn squad after suspension for the game against Crewe with manager Owen Coyle praising the attitude of a player who will be anxious to put a week in which he scored three own goals and was sent off behind him.
“I had a chat with him last week,” said Coyle, “and, because he was suspended, I gave him a few days off to spend time with his family so he could prioritise what needs to be in his best interests.
“He came in with a big smile on his face, he was prepared to work hard, and it was great to have him back.”
Coyle says that he still wants the central defender to sign a new contract but says that there have been no new offers for the player who has appeared keen to move after having been linked with Celtic and Brighton amongst others.
The Derryman is likely to be included in the Ireland squad set to be announced on Thursday despite his difficult start to the season while Martin O’Neill is expected to name a few newcomers for the friendly against Oman and opening World Cup qualifier in Serbia.