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Pardew lining up a move for Punch?
8:30am Thursday 21st February 2013 in Sport
Alan Pardew will get a first-hand look at Jason Puncheon amid speculation he could make a summer move for the midfielder if Saints fail to offer him a new contract.
The former St Mary’s boss signed Puncheon for Saints just over three years ago and is a huge admirer of the 26-year-old, who is set to feature against Pardew’s Newcastle at St James’ Park this Sunday.
The last time Puncheon was out of favour at Saints, in 2011, Pardew admitted he was monitoring the situation.
And that is reportedly the case again now with the winger’s contract fast running down.
Puncheon’s current deal expires at the end of the season and, while he has stated he is happy at St Mary’s, he will inevitably weigh up his options if no new contract is forthcoming and other offers arrive.
There have been three phases to Puncheon’s Saints career.
The first was as a valued regular under the management of Pardew when it seemed he was set to become a fixture in the side for years to come.
The next, shortly after Nigel Adkins took over, saw Puncheon become an outcast, flung out on several loans and his St Mary’s days seemingly numbered.
The third came when Saints were desperately short of players in his position and Puncheon returned to the fold, all the behind-the-scenes problems magically sorted out.
He hasn’t looked back since that day.
Having helped Saints to promotion from the Championship, he has gone on to establish himself as a first team regular in the Premier League, and performed extremely well.
He has scored six goals already this season, making him Saints’ second top scorer behind Rickie Lambert.
Though Saints have plenty of options for the three attacking roles off of main striker Lambert, they would surely be reluctant to lose Puncheon for nothing.
There would be no shortage of suitors with West Ham and Newcastle the latest sides linked.
As well as signing Puncheon for Saints, Pardew was tracking the midfielder in 2011 when he was out of favour, saying at the time: “Jason was somebody I scooped from MK Dons for a really good price.
“He’s done extremely well and he’s a player I’ll keep an eye on.”
The indications are that Saints may hold fire on offering Puncheon a new contract until they are certain they will be in the Premier League next season.