STEVE Bruce is hoping his meeting with Mike Ashley this week will help him land a major deal.

The Newcastle United boss met up with the club’s owner on Wednesday, hours after Ashley watched the side ease past Rochdale in the FA Cup at St James’ Park.

While previous managers employed by Ashley have suffered frustration and despair in the transfer window, Bruce feels he has no concerns after his second confab with the owner.

Ashley has twice broke the club’s long-standing transfer record in the last 12 months, which gives Bruce confidence they are able to operate at the top end of the tree, signing one or two players with a high transfer value rather than striking three or four lesser deals.

Asked he if Newcastle are competing with the big players in the transfer market this month, Bruce said: “That's the difficult part, but if I thought I was just in a losing battle, then I'd give up. We're still quietly confident that we can pull one major, big one off. Let's see.’’

Bruce has been linked with a move for Inter Milan’s Valentino Lazaro and admitted: “It's somebody we've looked at of the right quality. Whether it's possible, we'll see.’’

Ashley and Bruce met on Wednesday and the manager added: “The meeting was hyped up by you guys but it was very, very decent. He asked how he can help, he met everyone, said hello, talked to players and staff. We sat down and discussed what we are trying to do obviously, he'll back us as much as he can.”

He added: “We did not talk about survival but the plan going forward and bringing in that little bit of quality which is what we are trying to get. If we are going to improve as a team, and I just had three or four people who were not going to improve us, we are not going to get very far.

“You only get two opportunities, now and the summer. Two every 12 months to try to make the team better and I believe the addition of (someone like) an Almiron or Saint-Maximum, that sort of level improves you. That is what we are looking for.

“Unfortunately when you get there, there is an awful lot of competition as well. We still have a lot to do but we are trying as best we can.”

Ashley was constantly at odds with previous boss Rafa Benitez, but Bruce operates in a different way to the Spaniard and is content with the relationship and understanding from above.

Bruce said: “Do I trust him? What a good question. I have no doubts, the way he’s been with me, and I have no doubts what he’s said has been 100 per cent right, so far. He was very positive this week. We have to have a working relationship. We don’t speak every day on the phone, my conversations are with Lee [Charnley], that won’t change.

“I didn’t ask him if he was happy with the job I’ve done. But he was delighted, he’s seen the team score four. We had 70 per cent possession, that doesn’t happen very often!

“It was nice to have the ball for a change. No disrespect to Rochdale, but it all went well for us on the night. The injured players played at a canter and it was a decent night for everyone. Of course, when the top man is here and you win 4-1…’’

Andy Carroll is again set to miss out today with a hip / groin niggle. Allan Saint-Maximin is fit to start, Dwight Gayle will be out for around a month with a hamstring injury.

That leaves Joelinton up front again, with Bruce hoping his goal against League One Dale in midweek can kickstart his Magpies’ career.

But does Bruce still need to add a striker to his ranks this month to see him to the end of the season?

“We could find a wide player and put Allan through the middle,’’ he reflected. “There are various things have gone around here. As I said, Dwight may miss the next four weeks, Muto has never really had a go for me and wants a chance.

“Look, if there is somebody there who can improve us, I will act. At this particular moment, it is very difficult to get a centre-forward on loan who is going to be any better than what we have. Unless you can think of one?’’