Ashworth is on gardening leave after resigning from his position as Brighton and Hove Albion technical director in February to take up a similar role at St James’s Park.
However, the two clubs are yet to reach an financial settlement over cutting short his notice period, and Ashworth may not be able to join Newcastle until late this year.
United, up to now, have been unwilling to meet Brighton’s multi-million pound demand for Ashworth.
And, unless an agreement is reached in the coming months, the 51-year-old – who previously worked for the Football Association and West Bromwich Albion – will not be able to play any part in the club’s summer recruitment.
Howe, keen to see a sporting director appointed by Newcastle, was asked about the delay in Ashworth’s arrival ahead of Sunday’s game against Tottenham Hotspur.
“Whatever the situation is, I can adapt and overcome,” said United’s head coach.
“I think I said when first came in that, for me, appointing a sporting director is a matter of urgency for the club, because, I think, we need those structures that help the club improve, and, I think, we have a lot of improving to do behind the scenes to get to be the club we want to be.
"That’s in all areas. We want to build the club, and, to do that, I think you need the right people and the right appointment to happen.”
Newcastle, 14th in the Premier League table, signed five players in January’s transfer window, and Howe is ready to step in and work with head of recruitment Steve Nickson again if Ashworth isn’t appointed in time.
Howe is happy with the business the club was able to do in the last window.
"In the meantime, I’m more than capable of doing certain things, and the transfer window (in January) … I think the outcome has been very successful,” said Howe.
"I enjoyed the process of how we got to that outcome. Everyone did a really, really good job, so I’m more than happy to do that again.”