Bruce to thrash out Newcastle’s January transfer plan this week

Joe Williams

Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce will sit down with owner Mike Ashley this week to thrash out a plan for what remains of the January transfer window.

The sportswear tycoon is due to make a rare trip to Tyneside to meet the man he appointed as Rafael Benitez’s successor during the summer, when he sanctioned big-money bids for record signing Joelinton and fellow forward Allan Saint-Maximin.

An injury crisis has left Bruce struggling to put together a team for Tuesday night’s FA Cup replay against League One Rochdale, but while Bruce is confident of Ashley’s continued support, he has insisted he will not spend for the sake of it this month.

He said: “I’m meeting up with the owner in the next couple of days, that’s planned.

“As I’ve said all along, if there’s something that can really make us better and they’re available, then we’ll try to act, and I’ll ask the owner, who was very supportive in the summer.

“Let’s see, let’s see what we can get. But I’ve said all along, I won’t just bring players in for the sake of it. Most of the injuries we’ve picked up are minor, so they will be back in two or three weeks.

“I’m not one for just bringing in players for the sake of it. They’ve got to improve us and if that can happen, then I’ll have that conversation with the owner over the next couple of days.”

Asked if he expected Ashley to be as supportive as he was during the summer window, Bruce replied: “He was very supportive in the summer and he’s been very supportive of me full-stop, so yes, I expect that.”

Newcastle head into the replay with defender Paul Dummett and striker Dwight Gayle having been added to a lengthy casualty list with hamstring injuries suffered during Saturday’s 1-1 Premier League draw at Wolves, although skipper Jamaal Lascelles could return from a fractured tibia.

The Magpies failed to make the most of a promising first-half performance at the Crown Oil Arena and were eventually pegged back by 40-year-old Aaron Wilbraham’s equaliser, and Bruce is expecting another tricky encounter at St James’ Park.

Asked if his players were embarrassed to have allowed Wilbraham to score, he replied: “No, it’s not embarrassing, well played to him. He’s been around a long, long time and he obviously looks after himself. It’s credit to him.

“There are not many people playing at 40, but well done to him – and to get a goal, of course, he gets all the headlines.”