Chelsea facing Toon fight over English starlet


Newcastle United have joined Barclays Premier League rivals Chelsea in the race to sign defender Lewis Dunk.

The Brighton & Hove Albion starlet has been earning rave reviews in the Npower Championship, and earned England U21 recognition with a cal-up to Stuart Pearce's squad in November.

His form at the Amex Stadium has alerted a number of clubs in the top flight, with Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas said to be one of those taking an interest in the 20-year-old, who signed a one year contract extension to stay with the Seagulls until 2013 last January.

Toon chief Alan Pardew is the latest to be linked with the player, with The Chronicle suggesting the Magpies have sent scouts to track the youngster's progress on the south coast.

Injury to Steven Taylor has also left Newcastle United considering their defensive options in the transfer market, and Dunk would represent a relatively cheap option with a potentially big future ahead of him.

As for Chelsea, they too are looking into their transfer option, with a reported £7 million offer accepted for Gary Cahill.

However, the Blues have so far been unable to agree personal terms with the player, leaving Villas-Boas to continue his search for now.

Dunk would also fit with the Chelsea policy of bringing youth to the club, a philosophy Villas-Boas has stuck too since his arrival from FC Porto in the summer.

Under the guidance of former Chelsea midfielder Gus Poyet, Dunk has become one of the Football League's hottest properties, and whether the Uruguayan's relationship with his old club would give the Blues an advantage in the transfer market remains to be seen.

Either way, Brighton would want to keep Dunk within their ranks for the remainder of the campaign at least, and were he to be sold to the top flight a potential loan return could be on the cards.

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