NEWCASTLE have inquired about a season-long loan for Everton midfielder Tom Cleverley as Rafael Benitez looks to make some early progress now the transfer window has reopened.

Benitez regards the signing of a central midfielder and a wide player as a priority this month, and has approached a number of top-flight clubs about the possibility of taking one of their fringe players for the second half of the season.

Cleverley features prominently on his wanted list, with the England international having fallen out of favour at Goodison Park in recent weeks.

Signed as a free agent from Manchester United in July 2015, Cleverley featured reasonably prominently under former Toffees boss Roberto Martinez.

However, his fortunes have nosedived under Ronald Koeman, and he has made just four Premier League starts this season. He was an 88th-minute substitute in Everton’s Boxing Day win at Leicester, but did not get off the bench as the Merseyside club signed off for 2016 with a 2-2 draw at Hull.

Koeman, who has been linked with January moves for Manchester United duo Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay, is willing to let Cleverley leave next month, but Newcastle will have to persuade the 27-year-old it is worth dropping into the Championship when he is likely to receive alternative offers from clubs in the top-flight.

Benitez is determined to sign a central midfielder, with Jonjo Shelvey’s ongoing five-game suspension having exposed a lack of alternatives within the current squad.

Jack Colback is struggling for form, Cheick Tiote is expected to leave on a permanent basis this month, and Mo Diame could miss more than four weeks of action as he represents Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Newcastle have also raised the possibility of a loan deal for Fabian Delph, but the finances of a move for the Manchester City midfielder would present problems. Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek is another option, although Blues boss Antonio Conte would rather see the youngster remain in the Premier League.

Meanwhile, Sammy Amoebi is set to return to Tyneside later this week following the end of his loan deal at Bolton. The League One club want to keep the 24-year-old, who has scored four goals in 23 appearances, but Benitez wants to hold face-to-face talks before deciding what to do in the second half of the campaign.