NEWCASTLE UNITED are confident they will be able to announce Steve Bruce as their new manager within the next 48 hours – with the Sheffield Wednesday boss having told his current employers at Hillsborough that he wants to leave to take over at St James’ Park.

The Northern Echo understands that events have moved on significantly since yesterday morning, with Bruce now Newcastle’s sole remaining candidate to replace Rafael Benitez.

Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley is still to reach a compensation agreement with Sheffield Wednesday owner Dejphon Chansiri, who is determined to drive a hard deal, with Bruce having signed a one-year rolling contract with the Owls as recently as January.

However, the 58-year-old has told the Sheffield Wednesday hierarchy he wants the chance to lead his hometown team in the Premier League, and Newcastle officials are confident they can wrap up a deal quickly.

Bruce was due to meet Charnley in Manchester last night to discuss the terms of his appointment, having returned to England following the end of Sheffield Wednesday's pre-season trip to Portugal earlier this week.

Time is of the essence when it comes to finalising his switch from Sheffield, with Newcastle’s first-team squad due to fly to China at the weekend ahead of their campaign in the Premier League Asia Trophy, which begins with a game against Wolves in Nanjing next Wednesday.

The hope is that Bruce will be able to join up with the squad before the opening fixture, although visa issues could prove a complication.

Bruce has not been at work in Sheffield today as he and his coaching staff have been on a scheduled day off, but the Corbridge-born boss is understood to have held discussions with Chansiri about his intended departure.

Compensation figures of between £1-5m have been mentioned in the press in the last few days, but sources close to discussions claim Newcastle are confident Bruce’s current contractual situation means they will be able to agree a figure closer to the bottom of that price range.

Bruce is understood to be earning around £1m-a-year at Hillsborough, so even if he receives a hefty increase on that salary, Newcastle will still be shelling out considerably less than the £6m-a-year they were paying to Rafael Benitez.

Sources close to Bruce claim the North-Easterner is aware of the furious response his appointment will elicit from a large number of Newcastle fans. The much-travelled manager spent two years in charge of Sunderland between 2009-11, and has failed to make a positive impression in his last two posts, which saw him relegated with Hull City and fail to win promotion from the Championship with Aston Vila.

However, having been a boyhood Newcastle fan, Bruce has always regarded the manager’s job at St James’ Park as his dream position.

He has turned the job down on two previous occasions when he was manager at Birmingham City – once when he claims he was approached behind the back of Sir Bobby Robson – and feels this is likely to be his final chance to experience life in the dug-out on Tyneside.

He will be allowed to appoint his own coaching staff, with former Middlesbrough boss Steve Agnew expected to follow him back to the North-East.  

His appointment would be the final act of a saga that has dragged on for more than two weeks now, with Newcastle having struggled to persuade a number of candidates to consider succeeding Benitez.

Patrick Vieira, Mikel Arteta and Steven Gerrard are all understood to have expressed serious reservations about moving to Newcastle, while Sam Allardyce claimed on talkSPORT this morning that he rejected an approach that was made earlier in the week.