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Leeds central defender Jonathan Woodgate has agreed to join Newcastle in a deal worth £9 million.

The England international passed a medical and signed at St James’ Park thus ending Bobby Robson’s lengthy quest for a central defender.

Chairman Freddie Shepherd told the club’s official website: ‘He is a great young player, another player we’ve signed for the future, so we’re delighted.

‘Once again, we have proved our ambition as a club by backing our manager in the transfer market.

‘I hope he is going to be with us for the rest of his career. It was perfect timing for Newcastle with the window just about to close, but I was always confident we were going to get up.

‘Another bonus is that hecomes from the North East, so he knows all about the passion for football in this area and he knows all about the way of life – as well as the freezing cold weather.’

The loss of Woodgate has inevitably thrown the spotlight on the future of Leeds boss Terry Venables who has stood by helplessto prevent the exodus of players from Elland Road. Financial constraints have seen the club lose Rio Ferdinand, Robbie Keane, Lee Bowyer, Olivier Dacourt and Robbie Fowler in the last six months.

The former England coach as expressed his dissatisfaction at the way in whcih his teamm have been dismantled but stopped short of resigning.

‘I haven’t said I am going to stay,’ said Venables.

‘It’s an assumption that everyone has made. I’m clearly thinking about my future position – but it could mean either (staying or going).

‘I don’t want to make a knee-jerk reaction. We’ve got a game tomorrow (against Everton), and that’s the most important thing in my mind.

‘I think it’s fair not to expect me to make such a fast decision when this has been dropped on me.

‘I don’t want to inflame a situation which is already very raw – but I was assured if Fowler went that Jonathan Woodgate wouldn’t go.’

‘Don’t expect me to make a vast decision on something that’s put on me very quickly. I’m clearly thinking about the future position.

‘There’s a situation here that is a very difficult one, and I need a few hours to think about it and what we’re going to do about it.

‘My biggest concern now is the players who are here – and they are the most important now, along with the supporters. The players will be ready for tomorrow’s game.

‘Whether I’d have taken the job on at the time is another matter. I certainly didn’t know what was going to happen, and the chairman will agree to that.

‘Certain people this morning said I knew about it when I took it on, and that is nonsense.’

‘It would be irresponsible to leave.’ Venables concluded.

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