STEVE BRUCE claims there has to be a “reality check” about what Newcastle United can realistically achieve in their current position, as the uncertainty over the club’s ownership situation continues.

The Premier League’s owners and directors’ test is now into its fourth month, and the governing body has still given no indication as to the likelihood of Amanda Staveley’s Saudi Arabia-backed consortium being permitted to complete its proposed buyout of Mike Ashley.

The long-running saga took another twist yesterday when the Saudi Arabian state permanently cancelled the licence of Qatar broadcaster beIN Sports, which holds the rights to show Premier League matches across the Middle East. At this stage, it is unclear whether the latest step in the escalating dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar will affect the Premier League’s decision-making when it comes to Newcastle, but the illegal broadcasting of matches within Saudi Arabia is known to be one of the issues being assessed as part of the league’s checks.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which will take an 80 per cent stake in Newcastle as part of the Staveley deal, is estimated to have assets of more than £400bn, and a change in ownership has the potential to transform the Magpies’ financial position at a stroke.

However, if the Premier League block the takeover, the club will remain in Ashley’s hands and this summer’s transfer spending is likely to be much more limited. In such a scenario, Bruce says it would be important to keep expectations at a realistic level.

“The biggest thing about Newcastle is the huge expectation, and there comes a time when you have to think, ‘We are where we are’, said Bruce, ahead of this evening’s home game with Tottenham. “Now, it’s my job to try and keep us moving forward if we possibly can.

“That has been my remit since I walked through the door, but where we are at the moment, I don’t think the table lies. I’m delighted we are only a couple of points behind a really good team like Southampton, and a really good team like Everton who have spent hundreds of millions over the last few years.

“When I look below us, and the enormity of some of the teams that are down there, then we’ve done okay. We are where we are. We’ve always got to improve, and we’ll try to improve the team again in the summer. That’s my job, but there has to be a reality check somewhere down the line.”

Newcastle host Spurs this evening looking to prevent their season drifting to a limp conclusion in the wake of back-to-back defeats to Manchester City and Watford.

Both of those games saw Fabian Schar stationed as a central midfielder, and while the Swiss international could revert to his more usual role of centre-half this evening if a struggling Jamaal Lascelles is ruled out through injury, Bruce insists his recent positional switch had nothing to do with Matty Longstaff’s ongoing contract stand-off.

While the younger of the two Longstaff brothers signed a short-term waiver enabling him to play to the end of the season, he is still expected to leave Newcastle as a free agent before the end of the month, with Italian side Udinese favourites to sign him.

“This debate that I’m not putting Matty in the team simply because of his contract, it’s not true,” said Bruce. “We’d all like Matty to stay and get things resolved, but the ball is in his court. But I’m certainly not picking a team with that in mind.”

Newcastle (probable, 4-4-1-1): Dubravka; Krafth, Schar, Fernandez, Manquillo; Saint-Maximin, Bentaleb, Shelvey, Ritchie; Almiron; Gayle.