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Newcastle boss Bruce: Ashley backs transfer plans

Steve Bruce emerged from his meeting with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley convinced he has his backing as he attempts to improve his squad this month.

The Magpies have been linked with a series of potential targets, the latest Inter Milan’s Valentino Lazaro.

Their need for reinforcements in attack in particular is seemingly growing by the week with Dwight Gayle facing up to six weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring injury and Andy Carroll battling a hip problem.

They will tackle Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday evening with their only fully-fit specialist frontman £40million summer signing Joelinton, who ended his 20-game goal drought against Rochdale in the FA Cup on Tuesday night, and with Bruce actively pursuing targets.

Asked about his discussions with Ashley on Tyneside this week, he said: “He’s been fully supportive of the idea of trying to improve the squad.

“That’s been my remit since I walked through the door, how can I take the club forward? It’s my way – and he agrees with it – that we buy quality, not quantity, and that’s got to be the mantra if we are going to improve.

“We’ve got a very, very decent squad now – if we’re going to improve, then we’ve got to bring in that bit of quality that makes us better. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

There has been some disquiet among fans that the talks did not take place until half of the winter window had elapsed, but Bruce insisted that he, head of recruitment Steve Nickson and managing director Lee Charnley formulated their plan months ago.

He said: “Our plans have been in place for who we’re trying to get since last September, really. September, October, November, we’ve been planning what we’re doing.

“I speak to Lee and Steve Nickson every day and we are the ones who drive it. When we identify the ones that we want or we think we can get, then of course Lee asks the question.”

In the meantime, Bruce will focus on the clash with Chelsea – Fabian Schar and Allan Saint-Maximin are both back from hamstring injuries – and his head-to-head with Blues boss Frank Lampard.

He said: “He’s been given a marvellous opportunity, he’s gone and stamped his authority on it straight away. I’m a big admirer of Frank.

“He’s a great lad and he’s doing very, very well. It can’t be easy after just a year of management to manage Chelsea, but he’s doing extremely well and make no mistake, as always Chelsea have got some excellent, excellent players, so we’ll have to be at our best.”

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