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Newcastle have abandoned their attemtp to sign Leeds defender Jonathan Woodgate and set their sights on Russian midfielder Alexei Smertin and Ukrainian centre back Andrei Gusin.

Robson had identidfied Woodgate as his number one transfer target but Leeds have rebuffed all enquiries, forcing Magpies boss Sir Bobby Robson to cast his net further afield. Among those linked with a mmove to St James’ Park are Marseille’s Daniel Van Buyten and Rangers’ Lorenzo Ammoruso.

However, reports indicate that Robson has opted for Bordeaux’s œ4 million-rated Alexei Smertin and has also enquired about Dynamo Kyiv centre back Andrei Gusin.

Smertin, a defensive midfielder, admitted he was excited at the prospect of playing in the Premier League.

‘I am desperate for a move to the Premiership and I know that the English style would suit my game.’ he said.

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