Toon starlet nets deal

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Newcastle United defender Paul Huntington is all set to be rewarded for a series of promising displays with a new contract until 2010.

The 19-year-old defender has broken into Glenn Roeder's first team ranks this season and having not let his manager down when called upon, a fresh deal has been put on the table.

Newcastle's defensive ranks could be set for a reshuffle in the summer, with Titus Bramble, Craig Moore and Oguchi Onyewu all potentially on their way out, but it would appear Huntington is one player very much at the forefront of Roeder's thinking.

Huntington's preferred position is centre-back but more often than not he has filled in at full-back, with Roeder confident he will flourish when handed an extended run in his more natural role.

"Going back he was one of my Academy boys when I first took over and while some people may not have been sure about him I took a shine to him straightaway," he told the Evening Chronicle.

"At the start of the season I had him pencilled in to blood him in a couple of games, but because of our injury crisis he is in double figures.

"He has had a longer run in the first team than even he expected and he has not let anyone down. Yes he found it hard in Holland last Thursday night but it is tough in Europe and that boy (Julian) Jenner is a very, very good young winger indeed.

"And let's not forget that Huntington was playing at left-back which, if the truth was known, is his least favoured position. But, like the rest of the players we have had to ask to stand in a full-back, he has never complained.

"When he was given a chance to play in his best position of centre-half against West Ham at St James' Park at end of January he did very well alongside David Edgar when he came on as substitute."