JOHN CARVER claims Newcastle United fans have every reason to be optimistic after being informed of some of the club’s leading transfer targets this summer.

The Magpies have just eight matches remaining and, with ten points separating them from the relegation zone and seven to claw back to climb in to the top ten, there appears to be very little to play for.

Newcastle’s players showed some fight against Arsenal on Saturday after falling two goals down before the break, but still suffered a 2-1 defeat in front of a St James’ Park crowd which had been encouraged by the second half showing.

But there are still major concerns among supporters that Newcastle under owner Mike Ashley lack ambition to establish themselves as a Premier League force again.

Carver, who harbours hopes of staying in the role of head coach beyond this season, thinks the list of potential signings chief scout Graham Carr and managing director Lee Charnley are working to should hearten Newcastle’s frustrated following. Marseille’s Andre Ayew is known to be one on the hit-list.

He said: “We have some good players at this club. I think the fact we have made it public that we are going to invest ... without naming any names I’ve seen some of the players they are talking about and I’m quite excited about them.

“With the additions and what we have here (players out of contract need to be dealt with) I think we can put out a group of players who could be competitive - and not just competitive in the top ten. Competitive!”

He added: “I think the club will let you know when any business is done. That’s how they have always done it and it’s the right way to work. But because I’m a fan and I know the work that has been done, I also know it’s not one or two people. It’s major work that has to be done and we know that. I know the type of players the fans like - and they’re the ones on the list - absolutely.”

A failure to strengthen in January – which was cited beforehand as one of the reasons why Alan Pardew decided to move to Crystal Palace - has left Carver short at this stage of the season.

Injuries meant Newcastle only had 13 fit first team outfield players when Arsenal travelled to Tyneside. The lack of options meant Daryl Janmaat and Yoan Gouffran were among those who had to play out of position.

“It was amazing,” said Carver. “We had Ryan Taylor, a natural midfielder, playing at right-back and he was left-back last week. Daryl, who is a natural right-back, was at centre-half and was outstanding. Jonas Gutierrez is an outside left and played the No.4 role.

“Jonas was so important and I put him in there because I thought he could drive us a little bit more. He was exceptional when he came on.

“Daryl could play where he did, but the one thing is they scored two from set plays so it’s important to have centre halves who can head the ball as well. I thought Daryl did exceptionally well.”

Carver hopes to have midfielder Mehdi Abeid available again for the trip to Sunderland after the international break, while winger Rolando Aarons is not too far away. Having lost four games in a row to the Black Cats, Carver knows his squad could do with a lift before appearing at the Stadium of Light on April 5.

“I’ve already spoken about Sunderland because it’s important they know they have to be focused for it without getting too excited and pumped up for it,” said Carver. “I think it’s important to put it in their minds and make sure they don’t switch off and forget about the good work they have done here. We are going to drive them again next week and the following week to prepare for it.”

If Newcastle can turn in a performance like they did in the second half against Arsenal then they will cause problems for Sunderland. After Olivier Giroud’s first half double for the Gunners, Moussa Sissoko pulled one back shortly after half-time and there were chances for an equaliser.

Carver said: “We were so disappointed at how we conceded the goals. The biggest thing I said to them at half-time was ‘listen, this is what we’ve got in this room, this is what we’re dealing with, now don’t go missing, stick your chest out and be proud of the jersey and yourselves because you are professional footballers’.

“It was very important we didn’t go gung-ho, we made sure we still had that solid shape. But we did put more pressure on them higher up the field. We won the second ball, drove at them and that was the difference.”