Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has revealed the club have opened talks with Joey Barton over a new deal at St James' Park.
As revealed by skysports.com earlier this week, Newcastle are keen to tie down midfield star Barton to a new deal to ward off interest from Aston Villa and West Ham.
Barton has just 18 months to run on his current contract, along with Spanish defender Jose Enrique, and Pardew is keen to hold talks with the pair over new deals.
"I had a meeting this week with the owner Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias, and the main thing that emerged from that was a desire to keep our core players," said Pardew.
"It's nice to be able to bring someone in, but it's proving difficult because it's a time when everyone is looking at deals and thinking, 'Is it really right to go overboard in this window and upset the balance of your squad?'
"The most important players are the ones that are doing well for us right now. That's been my focus.
"We've obviously secured Steven Taylor, Joey Barton's got 18 months to go and we want to look at him and we want to look at Jose Enrique as well."