STEVE BRUCE does not expect to be making any major investments in January – and has predicted that next month’s transfer window will be one of the quietest on record in the Premier League.

With Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley hoping to resurrect a deal to sell the club to Amanda Staveley’s Saudi Arabia-backed consortium, permanent signings are effectively off the table on Tyneside.

As was the case 12 months ago, the Magpies’ January dealing will be restricted to loan additions, but Bruce is not even certain that he will be looking to exploit that market at the turn of the year.

Newcastle have been credited with an interest in Manchester United defensive duo Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo, but a move for either player would almost certainly be dependent on their current employers agreeing to fund a proportion of their wages for the remainder of the campaign.

Signing players from overseas could become much more difficult if Brexit negotiations break down without a deal, so Bruce does not anticipate a lot of activity next month.

Newcastle are unlikely to be the only club keeping their power dry however, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continuing to have a massive impact on footballing finances.

It is far from clear when supporters will be able to return to football stadia in large numbers, and while Premier League clubs are protected to a degree by the long-term broadcasting deals that the league has in place, Bruce expects next month’s transfer window to be much quieter than usual.

“I think it will be a difficult month to do anything,” said the Newcastle boss. “When I speak to most of the managers, we’re all thinking the same. January is always a difficult month to do business in. It’s very rare you get to a position where you get what you really want in January. It was the same last January – we brought two or three loan players in that certainly helped us, but we kept our money back and that allowed us to go and get (Callum) Wilson for example.

“Unless there is something there jumping out at us that we think can really drastically improve us, which you very rarely get in January, then I’ll be like most other managers and most other clubs, where I think it’ll be very, very quiet. I could arguably see it being the quietest it’s ever been because of the problems that everybody’s having and the difficulties that everybody is having to live through.”

Newcastle are likely to find themselves fielding interest in some of their fringe players, with Matty Longstaff in particular having been linked with a number of clubs in the Championship.

The younger of the two Longstaff brothers signed a new deal in the summer after it had looked like he might leave as a free agent, but an injury sustained in pre-season has severely limited his opportunities in the first team this term.

The 20-year-old is back to full fitness now, but did not even make Newcastle’s 18-man matchday squad for Wednesday’s trip to Leeds.

Derby County and Nottingham Forest are both understood to have flagged up an interest in a possible loan deal next month, but Bruce expects Longstaff to be involved in Newcastle’s first-team group sooner rather than later.

“Matty falls into the same sort of category as Dummy’s (Paul Dummett) gone into, and Ryan Fraser,” he said. “He’s been out a long time, and he’s trained now for the last two or three weeks. He’s in and around the squad, and I could have done with him having two, three, four games, like a pre-season. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to have that, but he is in my thoughts, especially when we’ve got a few missing. He’ll have to wait his chance like everybody else.”

Newcastle return to action when they host Fulham this afternoon, and Bruce will not be adding anyone to the group that was not in contention for the trip to Elland Road.

Newcastle (probable, 4-3-3): Darlow; Krafth, Fernandez, Clark, Lewis; Shelvey, Hayden, Ritchie; Almiron, Wilson, Joelinton.