Newcastle United manager Steve McClaren's transfer plans have taken a serious blow less than 72 hours into his tenure back in the Premier League, after chief target Andy Carroll dropped a strong hint he will remain at West Ham United.
Carroll, who underwent knee surgery in February and missed the final three months of the season, has been heavily linked with a return to St James' Park, after McClaren was confirmed as the Toon's new manager on a three-year deal.
The England international has endured an injury-ravaged spell at West Ham, making just 24 top flight starts in the two years since joining the club permanently from Liverpool in 2013, while the departure of admirer Sam Allardyce had drawn questions over his future.
But Carroll has seemingly committed his future to West Ham beyond the end of the upcoming summer transfer window by praising the appointment of new boss Slaven Bilić, who after a brief spell with the Hammers between 1996-1997 as a player returns to take over the reins from Allardyce.
"It is a great appointment," West Ham's record signing told the club's official website. "I have spoken to the lads and everyone seems to be happy.
"He plays a lot of attacking football. I have seen the teams he has been coaching and they love to go out an attack. That is great for me and I cannot wait to get started.
"It is interesting to see how he is on the touchline. Different managers have got different styles and this will be very different to what we have had in the past, but it will be very interesting and I cannot wait to get started."
Despite only being appointed on 10 June, McClaren has made no secret of his desire to overhaul Newcastle's current squad, which finished 16<sup>th in the Premier League last season and stood on the brink of relegation until the final day of the season.
And among the areas McClaren wants to improve is in attack where he hopes to continue Newcastle's tradition of having an iconic number nine leading the line by signing a striker to deliver goals.
"One thing I want to see is exciting players – a bit of pace, a bit of speed and individualism. This crowd has always had a number nine-style player and it'd be great to get one of them in," the newly appointed Newcastle boss said.
"Believe me, every manager would say they want to build this exciting team that attacks all the time and scores goals.
"Ultimately though, you want to build a team that wins. We're in the results business – there are different ways to achieve that and different styles. Sometimes you have to be pragmatic and work with what you have."