The Magpies have held talks with Ashworth, technical director at the Amex Stadium, as they look to add experience to their football operations department.
Indeed, Ashworth isn’t the only candidate United have spoken to during what has been, and will continue to be, a thorough process.
No decision is yet to be made as the club works closely with external recruitment company Nolan Partners.
But if Newcastle officially come knocking for Ashworth, Barber is hopeful he’ll remain on the south coast.
‘We hope Dan stays for a long time’
He said: “I hope Dan stays for as long as possible. There are always going to be options for our best people, whether they are players, coaches, staff to take other opportunities as they come along.
“To some extent we cannot control that, obviously. Our policy, again being very open, is always when we are approached by other clubs for our staff is that we want our staff to go and have that conversation if that is what they have been invited to do.
“Because sometimes, and in fact in a lot of cases, they go to those conversations, they look at what the option is and then they come all the way back to us and say, ‘Actually I am very happy where I am and I like where I am.’
“Whereas if you block them from that opportunity it can build resentment and then you deny someone a career opportunity and they resent the club for it and then at some point in the future it will end anyway. So we hope Dan stays for a long time.”
What’s the latest?
NewcastleWorld learned last week that former Celtic chief Nick Hammond’s time at St James’ Park is over.
Hammond, serving as a football consultant on a short-term basis, left his role prior to the 1-1 draw with Manchester United on December 27.
His task was to help evaluate and fine-tune the club’s extensive transfer plan ahead of the January window.
Due to his deal-making expertise he was asked to look over potential bids and player valuations to check they were realistic and correct.
The four-man panel is expected to be busy ahead of Monday’s transfer deadline. So far, Chris Wood and Kieran Trippier have joined the club.