STEVE BRUCE has got Newcastle United’s recruitment staff working on boosting his midfield options in January, with Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka under serious consideration on Tyneside.

The Swiss midfielder has been axed as the Gunners captain after a run-in with supporters and he is now expected to demand a move come the New Year.

That has alerted clubs such as Newcastle, who already have his Switzerland team-mate Fabian Schar in their ranks, because Bruce is keen to strengthen that area of the pitch.

Newcastle’s head of recruitment Steve Nickson is currently in South America looking at possible targets, although he is also keeping tabs on other positions and not just central midfielders.

Bruce said: “He’s (Nickson) on business. At least, I hope it is business, he can’t be on the Copacabana, surely! A few names have been mentioned transfer wise.

“When I got the job, in three weeks, I was linked with 42 players. That is going to be the case (again). Look, we are like everybody else, we are looking around but the one thing I won’t do, is bring anyone in who is not going to improve us and that is key to it.

“I would not do that to the club. It is not the right way. If there is someone who can improve us, fine, if not let’s be patient and get the right one. Certainly in the summer, there is a bigger pool of players than in January but we must go with the market.”

Newcastle have been credited with interest in numerous talents so far, in a variety of positions, and they are expected to spend in the window even if they are do not break the club’s transfer record for the third window in a row.

Bruce said: “We have six centre-backs, three right-backs but are a little bit short in midfield areas so we will have a little look at that and you are always looking to add that bit of quality wherever it is and see if we can add.”

The emergence of Matty Longstaff has certainly increased Bruce’s options in that area, where Jonjo Shelvey found himself back in the thick of things last week and he impressed overall as well as scoring a sweet free-kick.

Bruce hopes the former Liverpool and Swansea midfielder can now go on a good run of form to prove why he was being tipped for an England call not too long ago.

Bruce said: “I honestly believe that with Jonjo, he was not fully fit, he was carrying something and it was frustrating for him. His stats last week were massive so physically, he can do it.

“There is this perception that he cannot do the distance but he can. It is keeping him there now. We all know he is a good footballer but with us, for the vast majority of times, we are without the ball and he has to understand he has to do his part and he did it terrifically well at West Ham.  “He looked fit healthy and felt good about himself so it was nice to see. I hope he is finally playing without pain. It has been niggling along for him so the rest probably did him the world of good.”

Bruce has suffered the blow of losing Matt Ritchie for a longer period. Ritchie has suffered a set-back in training and no timescale has been put on his return.

The Scotland international had been nearing a return from the ankle ligament damage sustained in a tackle from Leicester’s Hamza Choudhury in late August.

But Bruce, who has been encouraged by the prospect of having defender Florian Lejeune back sooner rather than later, has revealed Ritchie is now facing a longer spell on the sidelines.

“Matt and Fab Schar haven’t made it, they’ve still got a bit to do,” said Bruce.  “We don’t think it’s that bad for Fab. But Matt was going along so well, he has had a bit of reaction to it in training.  “He was going along nicely, when it was pretty serious after being operated on, but we thought he was back ten days ago, but in training he has pulled up in training and we will give him time off and let nature do its thinking.  “Lejeune has come through, this weekend is a bit soon for him, but we need to get some minutes into him. He played 70 minutes the other night and he is chomping at the bit.”

Newcastle climbed out of the Premier League’s bottom three by defeating West Ham, and now the hope is that they can follow that up by winning at St James’ Park against the Cherries.

Despite the improvements, Bruce would love to see one of his forward line find the net after watching Joelinton, Allan Saint-Maximim and Miguel Almiron show plenty of positive signs of late.  “We know that they have still got to score, but it was good for Joe to make one last week, I know they are a threat,” said Bruce.  “Given time, they are young, they are getting used to playing in England, whoever you are whatever price tag, when you are trying to adapt to the Premier League it takes time. You don’t always get time these days. They were a threat last weekend and hopefully they can do the same this week.”