NEWCASTLE UNITED are increasingly confident of being able to push through a deal for Southampton midfielder Mario Lemina in the next few days.

And despite recent speculation around a possible swap deal, the Magpies are adamant they will not be including Isaac Hayden in any agreement for the Gabon international.

Having held discussions over a number of midfield targets in the last few days, the majority of which have proved out of their price range, Newcastle officials have honed in on Lemina as they look to strengthen Steve Bruce’s midfield options.

Lemina joined Southampton for a club-record £15.4m fee in August 2017, but while he was initially a success on the south coast, his time at St Mary’s has not gone as planned.

Having tumbled down Ralph Hasenhuttl’s pecking order, the 27-year-old spent last season on loan at Fulham, making 28 Premier League appearances for Scott Parker’s side. Had Fulham remained in the top-flight, they would have triggered a clause to sign Lemina permanently, however their relegation to the Championship meant the deal was no longer viable.

Lemina has returned to Southampton to begin pre-season training, but Newcastle’s recruitment team have held a number of discussions with the hierarchy at St Mary’s and are close to agreeing a deal.

The Magpies have been pushing for a fee of around £4m, and while the Saints had initially been holding out for at least £8m, a compromise is understood to be close. The initial fee for Lemina is set to be closer to Newcastle’s valuation than Southampton’s, although there are likely to be a series of clauses that could see the price rise if certain conditions are met.

Lemina’s arrival would be a welcome development given Newcastle’s lack of activity so far this summer, with Bruce admitting his side was worryingly short of midfield options in the wake of last weekend’s defeat at York City.

Given the shortage of numbers in midfield, and the likelihood of Matty Longstaff leaving on loan before the end of the transfer window, Bruce was quick to rule out the possibility of Hayden leaving when it was raised earlier this month.

Newcastle return to action tomorrow evening when they take on League One side Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium.

With goalkeeping trio Karl Darlow, Freddie Woodman and Mark Gillespie still unavailable because of Covid rules, youngster Dan Langley is set to continue between the sticks.