RAFAEL BENITEZ claims Newcastle United are on the verge of completing “three or four” signings, and is confident the majority of next season’s squad will be in place by the time the Championship season begins at the start of next month.

While discussions since the end of last season have been dominated by the likelihood of players leaving St James’ Park, Benitez has been working with managing director Lee Charnley to compile a list of potential arrivals.

To a degree, Newcastle’s signing policy will be dictated by who leaves. Financially, Benitez will be expected to raise at least some funds via sales, and the size of the current squad means there will not really be room for significant additions unless a number of players depart.

But with exits anticipated – Andros Townsend, Georginio Wijnaldum and Moussa Sissoko are all unlikely to remain beyond the end of the transfer window – Benitez has been busy paving the way for new additions, and is satisfied with the progress that has been made so far.

“We have three or four things ready,” said the Newcastle boss. “It is just that we have to start with the first one, and we have two or three that I think we can do in one week. But we can say nothing because the person that is responsible in this team is away.

“I want to say to our fans, we are working very hard. It is not easy, the market, because the prices are so high, but we are fine.

“We can do our business, and we have three or four things ready – and when I say ready, I mean really, really nearly there. But we are waiting for someone that is working in another club, and he needs to come back and sign the documents.”

Newcastle are looking at players based at both home and abroad as they look to rebuild for the Championship, with Benitez determined to add some hard-nosed experience to a squad that looked fragile on a number of occasions last season.

The likes of Ross McCormack, who is keen to leave Fulham, and Steven Caulker, who is expected to move on from QPR, are being considered from the Championship market, with Newcastle also interested in Reading midfielder Danny Williams, who could be a cut-price option with less than 12 months remaining on his current deal.

However, the club are also monitoring a number of overseas targets, some of whom are based in Ligue 1, and those players in particular are proving difficult to secure with so much attention currently focused on the European Championships in France.

“For me, as a manager, it is already too late (to make the first signing), but the reality is it is still too early,” said Benitez, in an interview with BBC Newcastle. “Why? Because we would like to have the squad ready and say this is the team, and start working with them from the first of July, but it is impossible in modern football now with agents and the Euros.

“A lot of people go there and don’t work. I’m really surprised – you try to work during the summer, when the transfer window is open, but sometimes directors are away so you cannot find them, then you cannot do deals.”

Meanwhile, Newcastle will complete their pre-season preparations with a home game against Dutch Eredivisie side Vitesse.

Vitesse, who finished ninth in the Dutch top-flight last season, will visit St James’ Park on Saturday, July 30 (3pm).