Steve Bruce admits to 'concern' as Mike Ashley sanctions transfer spending

Steve Bruce says he has the full backing of Mike Ashley at Newcastle United – but he admits he may NOT get a striker this month.

United’s head coach wants to strengthen his squad – and a winger and a striker are his priorities.

Bruce’s side has struggled for goals in the Premier League so far this season, and Dwight Gayle is sidelined for at least a month with a hamstring problem. Andy Carroll and Yoshinori Muto are also in the treatment room, leaving Joelinton as his only fit striker.

“It's a concern,” said Bruce, whose 13th-placed side take on Chelsea at St James’s Park this evening.

Rafa Benitez, Bruce's predecessor, was involved in a series of stand-offs with Ashley over transfers. Bruce, however, believes he can work with Ashley, who he insists does want to see the team progress.

Bruce said: “The meeting was hyped up, but it was very, very decent. He asked how he can help. He met everyone, said hello, talked to players and staff.

“We sat down and discussed what we’re trying to do. Obviously, he'll back us as much as he can.

Steve Bruce.

“We did not talk about survival, but the plan going forward and bringing in that little bit of quality which is what we’re trying to get.

“You only get two opportunities every 12 months to try to make the team better, and I believe the addition of (someone like) Miguel Almiron or (Allan) Saint-Maximin improves you. That’s what we’re looking for. Unfortunately, when you get there, there’s an awful lot of competition as well.”

Asked if he trusted Ashley, Bruce said: “I have no doubts what he’s said has been 100% right so far. He was very positive this week.”

Bruce says there is money available for signings, though the club, which is interested in Inter Milan winger Valentino Lazaro, is primarily looking at the loan market.

“If there’s somebody there who can improve us, I’ll act,” said Bruce. “At this moment, it’s very difficult to get a centre-forward on loan who’s going to be any better than what we have.”