AFTER a second goalless draw in as many matches at St James’ Park, Steve Bruce is dreaming of having Dwight and Andy leading the line at Newcastle United – and not just the duo currently on Newcastle United’s books.

With Dwight Gayle and Andy Carroll sidelined through injury and still a fortnight at least away from a return, Bruce has described how he would love to be mixing his forward line up because of how jaded £40m Joelinton and £21m signing Miguel Almiron are looking in the final third.

It is hardly a ringing endorsement for the expensive pairing, who in truth have reached similar levels all season because neither have scored as many goals as they would have liked in their first full season in the Premier League.

That said Newcastle’s injury list has meant a lack of alternatives, so rather than take either of them out of the side to freshen things up, Bruce insists he has had to ask them to continue in the hope that something will turn for the Magpies in that area of the field.

And given Bruce’s strong links to Manchester United, where he was a huge success as a player in winning titles and trophies, what he would have done to have had a different Andy and Dwight in full flow to call on against Norwich City on Saturday – Cole and Yorke.

“That wouldn’t be bad would it?” said Bruce, who in his pre-match press conference before the visit of the Canaries he had a slip of the tongue when he referred to Dwight Gayle as Dwight Yorke without even noticing until it went viral on social media.

The more serious aspect of that is that this is a Newcastle squad crying out for a striker of such quality to fire them further up the table and make the side more dangerous in the final third.

And Newcastle’s £35m bid for Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare before the window has raised the big question why they did not offer such figures for a new forward to improve things – having known to have opted against paying sizeable fees for West Ham new-boy Jarrod Bowen and AC Milan’s Krzysztof Piatek. There was also interest in Pablo Alcacer and Olivier Giroud.

“Look, there was nobody (available) out there that could have improved us (for that sort of money),” said Bruce. “Some will say there will have been someone. Let me tell you, in the Premier League it is very, very hard.

“I would rather keep my powder dry and wait until we get the players we want. If we don’t, I might be defeating the object. I might be cutting my nose off to spite my face, which wouldn’t be a bad thing, but that’s what I am determined to do.

“I am determined to bring more quality in than just add a body, that’s the way I looked at it. We looked and looked. We didn’t get anywhere.

“Look, I keep going back, I think there was eight or ten Premier League clubs looking for one, and I go down that route, the supporters go with me, and they are no better than what we have got. Hopefully now for Arsenal we will have Dwight Yorke available! I didn’t even blink for that (at Friday’s press conference) did I!”

Having prevented Gayle from moving on before the January window closed, Bruce would be silly not to use him until the end of the season provided he can find full fitness. If Carroll could get a run of games going again then that could be an even greater boost.

It was a gamble by Newcastle to offer the 31-year-old a contract in the summer after his West Ham exit, and he has had an impact this season. However, his injury problems which have plagued him during his career have continued to hamper and he has not played since January 11.

Given Carroll, such a talented centre-forward when available, has only started four league games, it raises the question whether signing him has been a failure.

Bruce said: “Andy Carroll was up until a month ago doing exactly what we hoped he would do. You can’t just blame it on Andy, his ankle is alright but he has a hip problem. It’s like everything else, Dwight at Wolves, we were terrific with him in the opening exchanges.

“Then you say let’s go and buy one out of the top of the Championship in January (like Bowen), when all the top of the Championship teams want to buy Dwight. We couldn’t get anybody with the right quality. By Arsenal, I hope all of them, apart from the two left-sided players, all of them will be there or thereabouts available.”

Carroll would have been the perfect player to have around against Norwich on Saturday when Newcastle were crying out for a player who could make a dramatic impact in the final third. His presence would have instantly done that.

Instead Newcastle struggled to make a significant influence in that area of the field. The nearest they came to scoring was in the 21st minute after a brilliant dummy and run down the left from DeAndre Yedlin.

Yedlin’s delivery was perfect, Joelinton’s good movement and header was good enough but former Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul was equal to it. Almiron still should have found the net with the rebound but he headed wide from eight yards.

Aside from a couple of Allan Saint-Maximim efforts that were comfortably saved by Krul, Norwich created the rest of the good chances. Had Teemu Pukki been in the sort of form that tortured the Magpies in August, Bruce’s men would have lost again.

But at least Newcastle did see new signings Danny Rose and Valentino Lazaro join Nabil Bentaleb on the pitch over the course of the 90 minutes, and the two wing-backs showed how they might be able to improve the side’s play.

Bruce said: “My aim is to keep improving, I seen slight improvement when the two lads came on. Tino and Danny, and then Bentaleb in his second game, I see qualities that he has, his passing.

“We have to offer more on the counter and that is what we have been doing very well until the last two or three weeks. I did have to say that Joe and Miguel have looked jaded in the last two or three weeks. It would be lovely to rest them and freshen things up but I have not been able to do it.”

Newcastle have invested £80m on that forward line that faced Norwich since last January, so little wonder then that there is frustration at the lack of quality in front of goal. Had it not been for goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, again, then Newcastle would have lost.

His best save was inside four minutes when he somehow turned away a close-range header from Sam Byram, but he then denied Pukki a couple of times – including one near the end when he should have done better following a Jamaal Lascelles error.

“Martin has been excellent since we came through the door,” said Bruce. “The defensive line up has helped us, defensively we are fine, we are difficult to beat and play against. But we have to offer more on the counter, look after the ball better.”

Yet, despite the side’s obvious failings in front of goal and it seems a long while since Newcastle actually played well, Bruce’s side are sitting in tenth spot and are unbeaten in four league games for the first time this season.

If they can navigate through a potential FA Cup shock at Oxford on Tuesday, they will also be in the fifth round for the first time in 14 years. That would represent progress under Bruce, but can it be delivered.

“Norwich have beaten Man City, they have gone to Leicester and Everton and won,” said Bruce. “They are good side. If you had told me in August that I was 14 points above them, sitting in tenth in February, I’d have thought maybe not.

“I can’t see us changing too much. What we have it suits us, taking pride in being difficult to beat, but when we have the ball we need to do more and give the supporters something to shout about. Certainly in forward area, and midfield, we didn’t do enough, hopefully that will improve on Tuesday.”