FOR his first trick, Steve Bruce must get his Newcastle United team past Rochdale in the third round of the FA Cup this evening.

For his second, the St James’ Park boss, is tasked with trying to get more transfer funds from owner Mike Ashley when the pair meet this week.

Bruce has a long injury list to contend with this evening, and, while Jamaal Lascelles will return, probably along with Matt Ritchie, a welter of players remain sidelined.

Ashley is scheduled to meet Bruce at the club’s training ground, a rare scheduled meeting between manager and owner.

He said: “In my time here he has been nothing but supportive, like he was in the summer. He wants to try and help again, he wants to come and have a cup of tea with me, so fine.’’

While former boss Rafa Benitez seemed to be constantly at odds with Ashley, there’s peaceful pact between the pair. Bruce is allowed to manage the club, without direct interference from above: “He lets me get on with the job, that’s the way it’s been – it’s been hugely respectful.’’

It’s a situation the boss is more than happy with ahead of their first meeting since early August when Ashley’s helicopter landed at the club’s Benton training base.

“Well, it’s been a while. It was a few weeks ago, he came into the training ground, so why not look forward to it?’’ mused the manager. “I’ve said from day one, he was very supportive in the summer and if there is somebody out there who can improve us – and that’s the key –I won’t just bring in people who I don’t think can.

“We’re two or three weeks from having them all fit again. If there is somebody who can improve us then I will ask him the question and that’s always been the way I’ve tried to work. If you just try and bring in bodies then it’s pointless.’’

Bruce added: “It’s his idea (to visit). He just wanted to come in and see if he could give us a hand. It’s encouraging and he’s been nothing but supportive.

“I’ve just got on with my job and tried to do the best I can and keep taking the club forward. We’ve seen little bits of quality in Almiron and Saint-Maximin. Joe is the one who hasn’t had the best of times but you can see the potential there. It’s that bit of quality that we need and if we can get to the level of them ones – if we can get one or two – then let’s try.’’

Bruce is hoping Ashley is willing to move into the same price bracket as before, rather than basement shopping for bargains.

He said: “I’m not saying it’s a £20million signing [we are after] but the difference is there for everybody to see, that quality. For instance, even if we got one or two with that quality that can add to it, rather than five or six.’’

While Joelinton looks a long, long way from being the £40m striker signed in the summer, Almiron has found his form.

The attacker will start this evening, as the Magpies are forced into a replay after their 1-1 draw in Greater Manchester. A fourth round home tie with Oxford United awaits the winners.

"Almiron will play; he plays in the first game, scores a goal, gets a bit of confidence - and that's an area where we're struggling up the top end of the pitch,’’ admitted Bruce. “Almiron's naturally fit. He's a class act a manager's dream, trains every day, comes in smiles. He's a very, very good player.

“He's been terrific these past 12 months, ok he could have scored more goals but his overall........That's the type of signing we need. If there's another similar kid out there, let's see if we can get them."

Bruce added: “We've got a great opportunity. We've got a chance, an outstanding chance. Rochdale at home, Oxford home.

"I've just said on the radio my own perception of the FA Cup changed at Hull, with all respect to Wigan, Sunderland, Birmingham. “

“At Hull we beat Middlesbrough they made 10 changes, then Southend. Then, all of a sudden, we're in the fifth round I remember Sunderland came down they put out their kids, reserves, we turned them over 3-0 so before you know we're in the semi-final against Sheffield United from Division One.

“So my whole perception changed. We're never going to win the Premier League are we? But you have to say the top five teams have won FA Cup 23 times out of last 25. That's the difficulty. Who are exceptions - Wigan and Portsmouth."

He added: "We've got to get past Rochdale. I'll play as strong a team as I possibly can. I'm not going to put the U23s out, we'll put out a strong team. I do believe it will be right for the club, the supporters, everybody concerned. If Hull can get to the final then, with a bit of luck, if the draw's kind to us we've got a chance. "