STEVE BRUCE has admitted Newcastle United are approaching the point where they need a definitive answer from Arsenal over Joe Willock’s future.

The Magpies continued their pre-season preparations with a 3-2 win at Doncaster Rovers last night, but off the pitch, Bruce is still to make his first signing of the summer.

His efforts to add to his squad are being hampered by the ongoing uncertainty over Willock, who enjoyed a hugely successful loan spell on Tyneside in the second half of last season.

Newcastle have discussed both another loan move and a permanent transfer with the Arsenal hierarchy, but are yet to receive a final response on either score.

“With Arsenal, what are they going to do? They’ve brought in two midfield players,” said Bruce, who watched Ryan Fraser, Sean Longstaff and Callum Wilson all find the target at the Keepmoat Stadium. “That’s our starting point, with Joe, because let’s be fair, he had an unbelievable three or four months with us. But there has to be a time where we know – is it going to be yes or no?

“We’re only allowed two domestic loans, and we’re only allowed one from each club. So, there has to come a time when there’s a cut-off, and we have to find out what’s happening. We’re still trying our utmost, whether it’s on loan or to buy him. We’re still trying.”

Bruce accepts he is working to a limited budget this summer, and is hoping the loan market will be a key area Newcastle can exploit.

“I think everybody knows how difficult it’s going to be,” he said. “We haven’t got a lot of money. As managers, you always want players and money to go and improve the team, that’s our job. But I don’t think I’m alone, I’ve never known it so quiet.

“We have to be patient. It’s very difficult, but with not a lot of money swashing around, supporters know it’s going to be very difficult."