Mike Williamson

By Dan King

Newcastle United have agreed a new five-and-a-half year contract with defender Mike Williamson.

The centre-back has been a near ever-present in The Magpies' solid start to their first season back in the top flight, having also been an integral part of the promotion-winning side of last term.

He only arrived from Portsmouth in January of this year, but his performances have been such that the club have acted to tie him down on a longer term deal.

Williamson, 27, said: "Playing in the Premier League with a club like Newcastle has been a dream for me, and I was delighted to agree a new contract to continue doing that until 2016.

"I've played in the lower leagues before, so to get the opportunity to play at St. James' Park every other week - and grounds like The Emirates and Old Trafford - is fantastic for me.

"Me and my family have settled here quickly and it's great to know that we'll be staying here for a long time to come."

Chris Hughton added: "Mike has been outstanding for us since he came here. He was somebody who I tracked for a while before we got him, and he has perhaps exceeded even the expectations we had of him.

"He has a brilliant attitude and in my opinion has been one of the best English centre-backs in the league this season. And I thoroughly believe that his best years are yet to come, so we're thrilled to have agreed the new contract."