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By ESPN Staff

Empoli's Tavano to fill Toon striking gap

Newcastle are set to open talks with Empoli about a move for Francesco Tavano, according to the striker's agent.

Tavano, who has also attracted the interest of Valencia and Internazionale, appears set to leave the Serie A side this summer.

His agent Stefano Guercini has revealed the Magpies will soon begin talks over a move for the 27-year-old, who scored 19 goals in each of his last two seasons for Empoli.

'I can confirm that a meeting about Francesco between Newcastle and Empoli has been scheduled,' he told

Tavano is being lined up by Newcastle as a replacement for long-term injury victim Michael Owen, although the English club are expected to offer less than Empoli`s reported 15million euros asking price.

Meanwhile Magpies boss Glenn Roeder has once again been forced onto the defensive over the future of midfielder James Milner.

Newcastle's north-east rivals Middlesbrough have become the latest club to be linked with Milner, who recently returned to St James' Park after a season-long loan at Aston Villa.

Villa were known to be keen to keep Milner permanently while Barclays Premiership rivals Wigan and West Ham were also rumoured to be interested.

But Roeder told his club's official website: 'James Milner is not going anywhere - he is staying with us and that is the end of the story.

'James has done well for us in pre-season and we do not want to lose players like him. There has been interest in him from other Premiership clubs but he will be playing a big part for Newcastle United this season.'