HAVING held a Zoom call with Mike Ashley in the immediate aftermath of Newcastle United’s final game of the season yesterday, Steve Bruce is confident the Magpies owner will continue to look to drive the club forward if the Premier League block Amanda Staveley’s proposed takeover at St James’ Park.

Newcastle signed off for the season with a 3-1 defeat to Liverpool that left them in 13th position, and within minutes of the final whistle, Ashley was speaking to the players and staff in the dressing room via a telephone conference call.

Bruce will hold a more detailed set of discussions with Ashley on Wednesday, when the Premier League’s ongoing owners and directors’ test is sure to be discussed along with the pair’s plans for the summer if Staveley is prevented from taking control of the Magpies.

Given his stated desire to sell up, there are fears Ashley will keep any investment to a bare minimum if he is still in charge come the start of next season, but Bruce is confident such concerns are misplaced.

“I’ve got a call in to Mike on Wednesday,” said the Newcastle boss. “I think he thought it was important to speak to everybody and say well done to the staff and to the players for all their hard work.

“It was good to hear from him. He just wanted to thank everyone for their efforts and that was basically it. All the players and staff were together, everybody.

“I’m sure there’s a shared desire to keep taking the club forward – everybody wants the club to do well. As I keep saying, we need some clarity about the situation with regard to the takeover because, if that’s not going to happen, we need to know quickly. That way, we can make sure it is business as usual.”

Despite his absence from yesterday’s squad, Bruce has not given up hope of Matty Longstaff signing a new deal, and the Newcastle boss is also still to make a final decision on the club’s loan players.

Danny Rose, Nabil Bentaleb and Valentino Lazaro are all due to return to their permanent employers, and as well as pondering a summer transfer for Rose in particular, Bruce will also be investigating the possibility of another loan deal for each member of the trio next season.

“I’ve let them go on their way because communication is so easy,” he said. “We have to have conversations with their respective clubs and look to see whether we’re going to make any of them permanent. Or the alternative is, ‘Can we have them for another season on loan?’ Let’s see how the situation develops.”

Newcastle signed off with a defeat to the champions, and despite his side throwing away a first-minute lead secured through Dwight Gayle’s neat finish, Bruce was relatively pleased with his players’ performance.

“We’ve taken the lead against them twice now, and for large parts, I thought we defended well,” he said. “But when they brought on their front three, you realise just what quality they’ve got.”