STEVE BRUCE will step up his planning for the January transfer window this week, with Sevilla winger Rony Lopes holding a prominent position in his thoughts.

Bruce will meet Newcastle’s head of recruitment, Steve Nickson, to discuss his plans for the turn of the year, with a budget of around £25m set to be available for squad strengthening. The Magpies spent around £60m on signing Joelinton, Allan Saint-Maximin and Emil Krafth this summer, but received £30m from the sale of Ayoze Perez, with the bulk of that money remaining in the kitty.

Newcastle have scored just four goals in their opening five league games, and Bruce is keen to increase his attacking options when the transfer window reopens.

Lopes is regarded as a leading target, with Newcastle’s scouting team having sent a senior delegation to watch the 23-year-old on a number of occasions in the last 12 months.

A full Portugal international, Lopes spent four years with Manchester City’s academy, but left the Etihad campus after making just five senior appearances for Pep Guardiola’s side.

A loan spell at French side Lille preceded a permanent transfer to Monaco, where Lopes successfully kick-started his career with a string of eye-catching displays.

He scored a career-best 17 goals in the 2017-18 season, and joined Sevilla in a reported £18m move earlier this summer.

However, the early stages of his Sevilla career have not gone to plan, with former Spain boss Julen Lopetegui handing him just 11 minutes of senior football in the first month of the season.

Lopes was not even named in Sevilla’s matchday squad for three of their opening four league matches, with Lopetegui once again omitting him from his 18-man party for Sunday’s 1-0 win at Alaves.

Newcastle are aware of the winger’s struggles to establish himself with the current La Liga leaders, and are set to make a formal approach towards the end of the year if the situation does not change.

The Magpies would be open to either a permanent or loan move, with Bruce keen to add further options in the wide areas. Newcastle’s lack of depth in the wide positions has been highlighted by the injuries that have sidelined both Matt Ritchie and Allan Saint-Maximin in the early weeks of the season.

“Over the past week or so, we’ve been taking stock of the last seven weeks,” said the Newcastle boss. “We’ve been looking at getting injured players fit, but in the next couple of weeks we’ll look ahead to January.

“I’ll sit down with Steve (Nickson) and try to identify some real quality that can make us better. We’ll be looking for that little bit of quality that can make us better, you’ve seen that with Joelinton and Allan (Saint-Maximin) at the top of the pitch.”

Lopes’ age and profile fit Mike Ashley’s preferred recruitment model, but the Portuguese is not the only player whose name will be discussed in the next couple of weeks. Newcastle have sent scouting teams to matches in the Bundesliga on a number of occasions already this season, and also had representatives at some of this month’s international qualifiers, including Belgium’s game with Scotland at Hampden Park.