Newcastle United are expected to renew an interest in French league players in the summer, after a frantic January transfer window that saw six footballers from Ligue 1 joining St James' Park. The Metro believes Alan Pardew has his eyes on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Isimat-Mirin,

The Magpies' managing director, Derek Llambias, said: "There are still targets in France. We haven't finished with the French market. We want to expand in Europe. We'll be moving around Europe: we already do."

Alan Pardew

Aubameyang, a 23-year-old striker who plays for AS Saint Etienne is believed to be a major summer target for the Toon, with ESPN reporting the French club had rejected bids as high £13m (from Premier League strugglers QPR; Newcastle were believed to have bid £9m) in January.

The Gabon international has made 23 Ligue 1 appearances this season, scoring 11 goals and assisting in six others. The forward will likely be the replacement for Senegalese forward Demba Ba, who joined Chelsea last month. Ba's transfer leaves the Magpies with only his compatriot, Papiss Cisse, and the Ameobi brothers (Shola and Sammy) up front. January signing Yoan Gouffran can play as a striker but is normally used as a playmaker or winger.

Pardew's involvement with players from the Ligue 1 has been cautioned (ex-Fulham midfielder Steed Malbranque in particular) but the impact has been positive so far. Newcastle have won two of their last three games, including a stirring 3-2 win over the Blues last weekend.

Newcastle are presently four points above the relegation zone, with Aston Villa a buffer between themselves and Reading in 18th place. Their next game is at home to Ukrainian side FC Metalist Kharkiv, in the first leg of the first knock-out round of the UEFA Europa League.

Pardew on Europa League

Meanwhile, Pardew has confirmed he will field a strong team for Kharkiv's visit.

"It's competition we'd all love to win. It's difficult to get through the group stage, make no mistake, so we don't want that hard work to be for nothing. I'll be picking a strong side for Thursday. The new lads who arrived last month have given us greater depth, so I'll take advantage of that..." he told the club's Web site.

"Metalist are a good side... so they'll get our full respect. But the last 16 is in our reach and there could be some big ties ahead for us. I'm sure our fans would relish bringing more big European nights to St. James' Park," he concluded.