EXCLUSIVE By Pete O’Rourke
Newcastle United have joined the hunt to sign West Bromwich Albion defender Craig Dawson this summer, Football Insider sources understand.
United’s recruitment team and manager Rafael Benitez were hugely impressed by Dawson during last month’s 1-0 defeat to West Brom at St James’ Park.
A well-placed source has told Football Insider that the defender is now on Benitez’s wanted list for next season as he prepares for another season of Premier League football.
Dawson has been one of West Brom’s shining lights this season in what has been a disappointing campaign for the Baggies.
The 28-year-old has really come to the fore in recent weeks since being given a regular start in central defence by Darren Moore and his stellar form has coincided with a late rally from West Brom in their battle to avoid relegation.
Dawson has started the last five games in central defence since Moore’s appointment as manager and he has helped West Brom go unbeaten in those five games and also secure three clean sheets.
Dawson, who was used primarily at right-back by Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew this season, has made nine starts in central defence this term and in those games he helped the team keep five clean sheets and pick up five wins, three draws and just one defeat.
The powerful defender’s rich vein of form has led to calls for Dawson to make a late charge for Gareth Southgate’s England World Cup squad.
A number of Premier League clubs are openly monitoring Dawson’s situation at West Brom with the club facing a battle to keep hold of him should they eventually suffer relegation to the Championship.
Statistics site Spotrac claim the 6ft 2in defender earns £40,000-a-week at the Baggies.
In other Newcastle United news, a BBC pundit has drooled over an “outstanding player” in the team destroyed by the Toon faithful all season.