Newcastle United

Newcastle United

Premier League • England

£25m Wood signing a ‘panic buy’ for gambling Newcastle, says pundit

Dwight McNeil, Chris Wood, Burnley stars

Burnley striker Chris Wood has been labelled a “panic buy” by Paul Merson, but he believes it may well work out for relegation-threatened Newcastle.

New Zealand striker Wood is set to sign for Eddie Howe’s men in a £25m deal. The Magpies have activated the 30-year-0ld’s release clause with a view to getting the forward registered to play against Watford this weekend. With top scorer Callum Wilson sidelined for the next eight weeks with a calf injury picked up against Manchester United, Newcastle needed to move quickly.

England right-back Kieran Trippier has already been made the club’s best paid player. And Merson says Wood will also be a good asset for the Geordies.

“They have to take a chance and hope someone can hit the ground running,” Merson told Sky Sports.

“Now, to hit the ground running, and I know he isn’t prolific, but Wood plays every week for Burnley and he plays in the Premier League.

“He knows what this league is about, and you know he will be alright in this league.

“It’s not going to be a shock to him, and he will run through a brick wall for you.

“That’s what Newcastle need. They need the likes of Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood.

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“They need players who are going to roll their sleeves up and not come in and be shocked how fast the Premier League is.”

Wood has 50 goals in 155 Premier League appearances and if he can continue that ratio on Tyneside Newcastle will consider the deal a success.

Merson: They have to take a chance

Wood, who played for Burnley against Leeds on January 2, is expected to lead the line against the Hornets at St James’ Park on Saturday.

“Time is running out for Newcastle,” said Merson. “They need a striker to play against Watford on Saturday. And they have to bring someone in.

“They cannot wait until after the game on Saturday. They can’t say they are in no rush and we’ll just get through this game because if they lose to Watford they are in major trouble. They’ll be in even more trouble than they are in now!

“This is why the panic is firmly on and why they have to bring a forward in. This is their cup final.

“They aren’t winning this game without someone. They have to take a chance and it is going to be a panic buy, whatever they do, but they have to do something.”

Merson believes Newcastle’s next three games could define their season.

“It’s got to the stage where they just need to take a gamble. They are literally buying someone for Saturday’s game, which is a game they have to win.

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Watford game ‘winnable’ with Wood

“If someone comes in on Saturday and gets two goals but then doesn’t score for three games, it would have still been a good deal.

“And that’s because they have to win this game. They have to beat the teams around them.

“Forget about the top-half teams. Don’t worry about them. You have to beat the teams in the bottom half and Watford are in and around them. Newcastle have to win this game.

“Newcastle’s bread and butter is their next three games. The next three games against Watford, Leeds and Everton are winnable. I say winnable. They have won just one game all season and they have been beaten by Cambridge. But the next three games are the sort of games they need to get points from.

“They are three big games so it’s make-or-break time for Newcastle,” added Merson.

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