THE transfer window might have reopened, but Steve Bruce does not anticipate any early-January signings arriving to help Newcastle United emerge from their current rut.

Yesterday’s 2-1 home defeat to Leicester City means the Magpies have now gone five league games without a victory as well as suffering a morale-sapping Carabao Cup quarter-final defeat to Brentford.

Things are unlikely to get any easier when they head to the Emirates to take on Arsenal in the FA Cup third round on Saturday, and while they remain eight points clear of the relegation zone, their next league fixture at bottom club Sheffield United on January 12 has assumed increased significance.

In an ideal world, Bruce would have a couple of new faces on display at Bramall Lane, but despite being linked with possible loan deals for Liverpool defender Neco Williams and Leicester midfielder Hamza Choudhury over the weekend, the Newcastle boss is not expecting a flurry of transfer action.

“It’s always very difficult,” he said. “Whether something can happen in the next week, I ain’t so sure about that. We’ll keep plugging away and see, but I don’t think there’ll be much activity with everything that has happened right across the Premier League.

“I can’t see there being much movement between many. I expect it to be quiet. If one or two things develop for us, then great. But we’ll have to see what comes over the next week, two weeks or three weeks.”

Yesterday’s defeat saw Newcastle concede second-half goals to James Maddison and Youri Tielemans as Leicester closed to within a point of league leaders Liverpool.

Andy Carroll’s first goal in a black-and-white shirt for more than a decade provided a modicum of consolation, but Bruce accepted his players had not done enough in the final third to seriously test the Leicester defence.

“Attacking wise, we have to hold on to the ball better,” he admitted. “Unfortunately, in the final third in particular, we gave it away. We gave it away for the (first) goal, we gave it away too cheaply, too often.

“There’s something we have to improve on. We have to be better in the final third, but that is always the hard part. That’s where you look for that little bit of quality, and unfortunately today we didn’t see enough of it.”

The defeat means Newcastle finish the festive programme having taken one point from their matches against Manchester City, Liverpool and Leicester. Given the quality of the opposition, that is probably what was expected, but it means the Magpies head into the second half of the season with at least half-an-eye on the relegation battle. Even so, Bruce is happy with his players’ efforts in the last week-and-a-half.

“I couldn’t fault their effort and attitude all week given who we were playing against, and especially with the problems we’ve had,” he said.