STEVE BRUCE will push for a new contract for Andy Carroll even though the injury-plagued striker has made just four Premier League starts since re-joining Newcastle United last summer.

Carroll signed a one-year deal when he returned to Tyneside last August, meaning that as things stand, he is due to become a free agent in June.

His impact during his second spell has been limited, with a series of niggling injuries severely restricting his availability. He is yet to score this season, and will once again be missing when Newcastle return to action at Arsenal on Sunday.

Nevertheless, Bruce has been impressed with his contribution both on and off the pitch, and will urge Lee Charnley to open talks with the 31-year-old over a new deal.

The Newcastle boss regards Carroll as a positive influence within the dressing room, and has been pleased with the Tynesider’s willingness to take summer signing Joelinton under his wing. He values the presence of a senior player with deep emotional ties to the Magpies and would like to keep Carroll for at least another season.

That desire will have to be balanced against an acknowledgment that Carroll’s injury record has been poor, although Bruce has been at pains to point out that the striker has not been absent because of a recurrence of the serious ankle problem that almost ended his career during his time with West Ham United. Instead, a string of less serious setbacks have sidelined him, encouraging Bruce to hope that his body will settle down as his training load increases.

Finances will form a key part of any future discussions as Charnley only agreed to sign off on Carroll’s return when the striker accepted what is effectively a pay-as-you-play arrangement.

Newcastle’s managing director would demand a similar agreement if Carroll was to sign on for another 12 months, and the indications are that the Gateshead-born forward would be willing to maintain his current terms as he accepts he would be unlikely to get a markedly improved offer elsewhere.

Carroll has enjoyed being back on Tyneside this season, and is unlikely to put too many obstacles in the way of a new deal.

The situation could be complicated by what happens with the rest of Newcastle’s attack this summer, with Dwight Gayle’s time in the North-East expected to come to an end. If Gayle leaves, Bruce will have to sign a direct replacement, but if he recruits a player with limited Premier League experience, he may decide he cannot have Carroll taking up a squad place given his injury issues. As things stand, however, Bruce remains keen to keep the North-Easterner.

Newcastle will be monitoring a number of different transfer targets in the next couple of months, with Turkish midfielder Efe Binici having become the latest player to be linked with a possible summer move.

Binici has turned down the offer of a new contract with his current employers, Super Lig side Goztepe, meaning he will be free to move elsewhere in the summer.

The Turkish media claim Newcastle recently sent a senior scouting delegation to watch the 19-year-old, along with fellow Premier League clubs Watford and Bournemouth.

The Magpies have also been credited with an interest in Real Valladolid defender Mohammed Salisu, who has a €12m release clause in his current contract in Spain.

Meanwhile, Newcastle return after their mid-season break when they travel to the Emirates at the weekend , with Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta set to be boosted by the return of two key defenders.

Bukayo Saka has shaken off the knee injury he sustained against Burnley in the Gunners’ last match, while Sead Kolisanic is also set to be available.

The duo’s return lessens the need for Arteta to hand a debut to new signing Pablo Mari, with the Spaniard still short of fitness following his loan move from Flamengo.

Joelinton and Yoshinori Muto are back in training for Newcastle, with Danny Rose and Valentino Lazaro also available after they were ineligible at Oxford.