By Matt Farr

Newcastle have been handed a blow in their reported pursuit of Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross.

The Independent claimed on Wednesday that Rafa Benitez had made the 29-year-old a top priority in the summer transfer window, if Newcastle were to gain promotion to the Premier League.

However, Stoke boss Mark Hughes has issued an emphatic response to the reported interest in one of his prized assets, dismissing the reports as ‘pure speculation’.

He said, as quoted by the Chronicle: “We’re looking to sit down and re-contract him, along with others.

“That would make sense for everybody. Talk of a move is pure speculation.”

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Benitez is likely to turn to players with considerable top flight experience this summer ahead of their potential return to the Premier League, and Shawcross fits the bill.

However, Hughes’ comments prove that they will be reluctant to part with the defender, and will instead be looking to offer him an extended stay at the club.

He currently has just one year left run on his contract at the bet365 Stadium.

Shawcross has been with the Midlands outfit for 10 years, having joined Stoke from Manchester United in 2007. He had initially joined on loan, before sealing a permanent switch for a £1million fee five months later.

However, should Benitez be forced to turn his attention away from Shawcross this summer, there will be no shortage of potential targets.

A move for Hull defender Harry Maguire has also been touted in the media.

In other Newcastle transfer news, DeAndre Yedlin is set to convince this in-demand Euro sensation to join Newcastle.

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