RAFAEL BENITEZ admits Newcastle’s mounting injury problems could force him to reassess his options in the final two weeks of the transfer window, with Mike Ashley having chaired a recruitment meeting last week that led to a reaffirmation of the club’s overarching transfer policy.

Ashley watched the Magpies’ 2-1 win over Brentford from the Griffin Park stands at the weekend, and after adopting a largely hands-off role for much of Benitez’s time on Tyneside, the sportswear magnate appears to be reasserting his influence over club affairs.

Newcastle’s long-standing policy of prioritising the purchase of young, up-and-coming players with a potential sell-on value remains intact, although contrary to some weekend reports, it has never been completely overhauled.

Benitez was afforded some leeway to add experience and Championship know-how to the squad during last summer’s transfer window, and there will still be occasions when Newcastle relax their self-imposed rules to address a specific concern.

Crucially, Benitez is understood to be relaxed about last week’s meeting, although he is bound to be concerned at the mounting injury crisis that could force him to step up his recruitment drive in the next fortnight.

Saturday’s victory came at a considerable cost, with Dwight Gayle, Isaac Hayden and Vurnon Anita all picking up injuries that forced them off the field.

Gayle, who damaged his hamstrings, and Hayden, who injured his groin, are likely to face two or three weeks on the sidelines, with Anita set for a much longer spell in the treatment room with Newcastle’s medical staff assessing whether he has damaged ankle ligaments.

Gayle’s absence provides the biggest headache, with strike partner Aleksandar Mitrovic also having been ruled out for the next two weeks after injuring his knee in the FA Cup third-round draw with Birmingham, and with his squad being stretched to its limits, Benitez is set to meet managing director Lee Charnley in the next 48 hours to discuss transfer options.

“At the moment, I think we have to wait and speak to the doctors,” said Benitez, who saw Daryl Murphy’s second-half winner lift Newcastle back to the top of the table. “I will speak to my people and we will decide, but we have to analyse where we are and see what we can do.

“We are working on things (in the transfer market). We will see what we can do. The ideal situation would be to get the right players, not just to get players. We are working on that and seeing if we can do something or not this week.”

Benitez has suffered a series of frustrations in the opening two weeks of the window, with a number of approaches having failed to come to fruition.

The Magpies’ recruitment team felt they were well positioned to sign either Ruben Loftus-Cheek or Tom Cleverley, but the former will be remaining with Chelsea after Antonio Conte ruled out a loan move and the latter has opted to remain in the Premier League with Watford until the end of the season.

Benitez retains an interest in Manchester City’s Fabian Delph and Everton’s James McCarthy, but neither player looks like moving on loan before the end of the month. Liverpool youngster Seyi Ojo is also on Newcastle’s radar, although Jurgen Klopp is understood to be reluctant to lose the winger given his own squad’s lack of depth.

Benitez has been targeting a central midfielder and a winger since the window opened, and his lack of success has resulted in a number of agents offering Newcastle up to a dozen players in the last week alone. At this stage, however, Benitez does not regard any as an ideal fit.

He is also turning his attention to strikers, with Daryl Murphy currently the only fit and available forward for Wednesday’s FA Cup replay and Saturday’s Championship home game with Rotherham.

Benitez is a long-term admirer of Callum Wilson, who was a second-half substitute as Bournemouth suffered a 3-1 defeat at Hull City at the weekend. However, while Eddie Howe could potentially be willing to do business this month, the Cherries striker would command a price tag in excess of £15m.

Newcastle will at least be able to welcome one player back into their squad for Wednesday’s replay with the Blues, with Jonjo Shelvey having completed the five-match suspension that was imposed after he was found guilty of racially abusing Wolves midfielder Romain Saiss.

Shelvey could go straight back into the team in two days’ time, although with Anita and Hayden both set to be unavailable for the next few weeks, Benitez admits he needs the midfielder for Saturday’s league game.

“We have to analyse all the options because obviously we have lost some players,” said the Magpies boss. “(Sammy) Ameobi and (Jamie) Sterry cannot play in the cup, so we need to analyse the options. Jonjo may have to play. Or maybe I may have to play instead!”