DANNY Simpson’s Newcastle United future was today in the balance – with Wigan Athletic leading the race to sign him.
The defender – who is out of contract in the summer – is also wanted by Fulham and West Bromwich Albion.
Simpson, sidelined with a foot injury, will find his path to first-team football blocked by new signing Mathieu Debuchy when he returns to fitness.
And the 26-year-old is understood to be open to a loan move away from the club between now and the summer.
Simpson would then be able to leave St James’s Park on a free transfer at the end of the season.
However, Wigan are keen on a permanent deal, and the club is understood to have made contact with Newcastle this week.
And the 26-year-old could yet leave before tonight’s transfer deadline.
Simpson has been the club’s first-choice right-back since joining from Manchester United in 2009, initially on loan.
But talks over a new contract broke down last season, and he knows his future lies away from St James’s Park.
United are understood to be willing to let Simpson leave St James’s Park, having significantly strengthened manager Alan Pardew’s defensive options in this month’s transfer window.
Meanwhile, while Newcastle don’t expect to make any more senior signings, teenage midfielder Kevin Mbabu is tipped to arrive from Swiss club Servette.
The 16-year-old – who would cost £1m – would join United’s development squad.