Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has attempted to head off a fresh crisis after captain Fabricio Coloccini's continued presence on Tyneside was thrown into doubt.
It is understood the 30-year-old Argentina international has not submitted a formal transfer request, but has indicated his desire to return to South America for personal reasons, although the club was not commenting on the matter.
Coloccini signed a four-year contract extension in March last year as Pardew tied up one of his most influential players on a long-term deal.
However, he has struggled to reproduce his stunning form of last season this time around with Newcastle underperforming as a team, while Pardew (right) acknowledged there had been a difference of opinion between the two as the busy Christmas programme approached.
The current issue is understood not to be football-related and while negotiations are under way, the former Deportivo la Coruna player's future remains uncertain ahead of his anticipated return to the squad for today's Premier League trip to Norwich.
Rumours of Coloccini's unrest first surfaced when his father Osvaldo revealed Argentinian club San Lorenzo were keen to recruit him, but the latest development has come at a time when Newcastle least need it after last Saturday's 2-0 FA Cup third-round defeat at Brighton capped a miserable run of form.
Pardew said: "It was a difficult situation. It was a really horrible day for the players and fans and more importantly the staff, but we have to lick our wounds. We are much stronger this week and that is much better for us."
Despite more frustration in his search for a striker to replace the departed Demba Ba, Pardew has had some welcome good news with the arrival of French full-back Mathieu Debuchy and the return to fitness of Papiss Cisse and Yohan Cabaye.
Lambert looks for value
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert wants to bring in "one or two players" during the January transfer window -- but not at the expense of the club's financial stability.
Villa are only one point above the Premier League's bottom three ahead of tomorrow's home encounter with fellow strugglers Southampton. A lengthy injury list has deprived Lambert of several experienced players and he is aware of the need to strengthen before the end of the month.
But Lambert, who spent £23million during the summer transfer window, also knows the club club "cannot go bursting into major debt."
He said: "I understand the finances of it. The club cannot go into major debt. It's got to watch itself. It's something I'll meet head-on. I don't know how much, off the top of my head, the chairman (Randy Lerner) has put into the club. I'm pretty sure it's not light.
"I've spoken to him. There are one or two lads there that we will try to get. A lot is dictated by finance. We need a bit of strength in the middle of the pitch. Prices in January can be so inflated that you can pay through the nose for someone, and it's a guy you maybe don't want at the club. We have to build this club and not let it go back to what has happened before."
West Ham sign Wellington
West Ham have completed the loan signing of Brazilian forward Wellington Paulista from Cruzeiro.
The 29-year-old has signed for the Hammers on an initial six-month loan deal but the club have an option to extend that to a three-year contract.
Wellington has been linked with a move to Upton Park for a number of weeks and becomes Sam Allardyce's fourth signing of the January transfer window following the acquisitions of Joe Cole, Sean Maguire and Marouane Chamakh.
Wellington, who can play as a main striker or operate on either wing, will now be competing with Chamakh, Andy Carroll and Carlton Cole for a berth in West Ham's attack.
He said: "I think I can do my best here and I am coming to England to prove to everyone that I am one of the best strikers in Brazil and to get better and better.
"I am strong, I am a fighter and I can score with both feet. I run a lot on the pitch and I can play as either as first or second striker.
"The pressure will not be a problem for me because I am used to it from my time in Brazil, where the fans were really addicted to the club."