NEWCASTLE United are tracking Bolton Wanderers midfielder Mark Davies.
Manager Alan Pardew met owner Mike Ashley last week to discuss the club’s transfer strategy.
The club’s No1 priority is a defensive recruit after the failed bid to sign Watford’s Adrian Mariappa last month.
And the need for defensive reinforcements has been underlined in recent weeks, not least by Saturday’s 5-0 drubbing at Tottenham Hotspur.
However, Pardew and his scouting team are also drawing up targets in other positions, and Davies – who has scored three Premier League goals this season – is understood to be on the club’s summer shortlist.
The 23-year-old, a box-to-box player, could leave the Reebok Stadium, where he is under contract until 2015, at the end of the season if struggling Bolton are relegated.
Owen Coyle’s side are second from bottom of the league, and a point adrift of safety.
And a fire sale would be inevitable if the club lose their battle against relegation to the Championship.
Coyle rates Davies, pictured, highly, and would be reluctant to lose the former Wolverhampton Wanderers player, who he has likened to Paul Gascoigne.
“Mark’s style of play is a rare commodity,” said Coyle. “There are not many midfielders around who can keep the ball like he does.
“When Mark is at his best he drives forward and takes people on. The best example of that was Paul Gascoigne who could drive with the ball.
“Mark has a long way to go to get to that level - he has got to get a level of consistency into his game - but he has got great quick feet, and he’s got an end product to his play as well.”
Meanwhile, United’s reserve team were in action away to Everton this afternoon in a behind-closed-doors fixture.
South Tynesider Remie Streete is in Willie Donachie’s squad, as is striker Phil Airey, whose one-month loan at Gateshead was terminated last week.
UNITED: Alnwick, Baird, Nzuzi, Dummett, Henderson, Kadar, Streete, McDermott, Sayer, Moyo, McGorrigan, Adjei, Edmundsson, Donaldson, Airey, D Taylor.