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Is Ashworth's Gardening Leave Permanent?

Everechi Eze destroyed Newcastle's defence on Wedneday at Selhurst Park. Michael Olise joined him from the bench, whilst Marcc Guehi, Palace's 23 year-old England defender, who joined them from Chelsea in 2021 for a meagre £18m, is currently recovering from "minor knee surgery".

Why is this relevant to NUFC today? Because they were all Dougie Freedman acquisitions.

DougieFreedman is Crystal Palace's Sporting Director and multiple reliable sources are indicating that he is on the radar to take up that position at not just Newcastle United, but also Manchester United who, although they have recently appointed Jason Wilcox as Technical Director, and are currently "negotiating" with us to release Dan Ashworth from his gardening leave, are also keen to to recruit the Scot. He has occupied the same position at Selhurst Park since 2017 and is held in extremely high regard in Premier League circles. His domestic experience is seen as key by those leading Newcastle’s search.

Recruitment experts Odgers Berndtson had been tasked with sourcing candidates, and representatives from the club’s ownership group and executive team have since met with some of the contenders. Freedman, 49, is among the final list of names. He was sat behind owner Steve Parish at Selhurst Park on Wednesday night and saw Palace beat Newcastle 2-0. Members of the Magpies hierarchy, including co-owners Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi' along with chief executive Darren Eales, were also in the directors’ box.

The club’s shortlist - also thought to include the legendary Paulo Maldini has entered its final stages.

Given that Eddie Howe would appear to have a considerable bias toward the recruitment of mainly English players with Premier League experience, it would appear that Freedman could be his choice.

The PIF, on the other hand, particularly cognisant of PSR and financial prudence, would probably prefer Maldini with undoubtedly extensive continental contacts and the less expensive (think Bruno, Botman and Isak) options that these contacts could obtain.

Does this mean that Ashworth could end up on permanent gardening leave? Watch this space!

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