RAFAEL BENITEZ is ready to make a final plea to Mike Ashley for some much-needed transfer progress, but the Newcastle United boss is growing increasingly resigned to the likelihood of no major additions this month.

Benitez has spent the first fortnight of the transfer window warning of the need to strengthen his squad, but his recommendations have so far fallen on deaf ears.

Ashley flew back into England this week after a break in the United States, and Benitez is hoping the owner’s return will free up the log-jam that has been preventing him from making any headway in the transfer market.

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Benitez has presented a number of potential deals to Lee Charnley, but the managing director has been unable to sign off on anything without Ashley’s prior agreement.

The Magpies owner remains extremely reluctant to commit any new funds while takeover talks with Amanda Staveley and her PCP Capital Partners group remain ongoing, but with the two parties still unable to reach an agreement over a sale price, it is now all-but-impossible to see a deal being concluded before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

That leaves Newcastle in a state of limbo, and means Benitez will begrudgingly have to focus all his attention on potential loan deals. Even they could prove difficult to pull off though, with potential targets such as Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge still out of the Magpies’ current price range, even for a short-term switch to the end of the season.

Chelsea duo Kenedy and Charly Musonda remain viable targets, with Antonio Conte set to sanction the duo’s departure on loan in the next few days.

Benitez tried to sign Kenedy in the summer, only for a deal to prove elusive, and remains a strong admirer of the Brazilian, who can play at left midfield or left-back. Musonda plays in a more attacking midfield position, but Newcastle face a considerable battle for the 21-year-old’s services with Bournemouth, Watford and West Brom also hoping to set up a loan deal.

Newcastle completed one transfer deal yesterday, with Ivan Toney joining Scunthorpe United for the remainder of the season.

Toney spent the first half of the current campaign on loan at Wigan Athletic, and returns to Glanford Park looking to rediscover the form that saw him score seven goals in 17 appearances for Scunthorpe last season.

Newcastle return to action with a home game against Swansea City tomorrow, and their relegation rivals are set to be without a host of senior players for their trip to St James’ Park.

Kyle Naughton will definitely miss out because of suspension, and fellow defender Angel Rangel has also been ruled out with a calf injury.

Tammy Abraham, who was one of Benitez’s leading targets at the start of the summer, and Renato Sanches, who made his Swansea debut in September’s 1-0 defeat to Newcastle at the Liberty Stadium, are also major doubts.

“Renato is progressing,” said Swans boss Carlos Carvalhal. “But we are not sure yet about him or Tammy. We will see whether they recover as well as they have been doing.

“Renato came off with an injury (during Swansea’s FA Cup third-round draw with Wolves), but it’s not serious. He had a scan which didn’t show anything big, and he and Tammy will recover in a very short time. But we don’t know yet whether they will be ready for Saturday.”