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New defenders needed - 23/11/2004

New defenders needed
An old mate who's still pulling on his boots!
   Robert Lee
   Andy Johnson
   Newcastle United
   Crystal Palace

Warren Barton is backing Newcastle United to go through to next season's Champions League but only if they bring in new defenders when the transfer window opens again January.

The former United right back is now working for Sky Television and he jumped at the chance to work at the match with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

Barton saw United keep their first away Premiership clean sheet of the season and only their second in total this season.

And that on a ground where, in his Wimbledon days, Barton and his Crazy Gang colleagues always used to find the United defence to their liking.

After the game Barton told me: "Palace didn't put Newcastle's defence under too much pressure by playing only one striker in the form of Andy Johnson.

"The defence still had a few jittery moments and they've got to sort that out.

"If you look at the quality they have in midfield and up front then, providing they strengthen the defence, there is no reason why they cannot get in a Champions League spot as it's still wide open for any team who puts a decent run together.

"Individually they have good players, but they need someone like John Terry or Sol Campbell in there to pull everyone together, but those players don't come around too often.

"Newcastle have always been a cavalier team and sometimes that means holes are left at the back. Other teams have become aware of that.

"They are the Entertainers, but to be serious contenders they've got to be solid at the back. Get that right and with the quality and flair they have up front, then they have got every chance."

Unlike his big pal Rob Lee, who has joined Oldham Athletic, Barton has hung up his boots as a player although he is currently coaching Dagenham and Redbridge in his desire to stay in the game.

However, he still found time to travel from Selhurst Park to a public house in the South East of London on Saturday night to be the guest at the United London Supporters Club's 40th anniversary - the only past or present Newcastle player to do so.

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