Robson refutes reports

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Newcastle United boss Sir Bobby Robson has denied that Steve Harper could be poised to join Celtic in the New Year.

Speculation in both Glasgow and the North East had suggested the keeper was heading for Parkhead, with some reports even going as far as claiming Magnus Hedman would move in the opposite direction as part of a swap deal.

However, Robson emphatically refuted the rumours.

"I have no knowledge of anybody wanting Steve Harper," he protested. "Nobody has used my telephone.

"My telephone is cold at the moment."

Robson confirmed that he still has problems in the striking area, after being plagued by injuries to his front men.

"Shola Ameobi had an operation on his cheekbone," he added. "He had a depressed cheekbone so I reckon that's three or four weeks.

"Craig Bellamy's still struggling, of course, he's not around for another six weeks or so but we're okay.

"Tresor Lomana Lua-Lua is fit but he goes away around January 10 (for the African Cup of Nations) so that's another striker down.

"We're trying to get Carl Cort fit. He's started today on his comeback but it'll be at least two weeks before he's anything like ship-shape."

Robson has also changed his mind about farming Hugo Viana out on loan to Sporting Lisbon, due to injury concerns over Lee Bowyer.

The former England manager told the Portuguese international that he cannot afford to let the player leave St James' Park at the moment.

"I've just spent almost half a day with him and the situation is, at this moment, Hugo Viana is staying here," Robson added.

"We have four-and-a-half months of football to be played and I don't know what's going to happen with injuries.

"We've just lost four strikers and Bowyer, and with Jonathan Woodgate, that's six players we have injured at the moment. If we let Hugo Viana go, that's seven.

"I'm trying to get Hugo to understand that. He's 20 years of age, but he hasn't got an old head on young shoulders. He sees himself and that's all he can see, and we're saying 'It's more than that Hugo'.

"We will review Hugo's position in a month's time at the end of January, but as far as I'm concerned, Hugo hasn't got a cat in hell's chance of leaving this club before January.

"I'll review it at the end of January and see what the position is."