STEVEN GERRARD and Unai Emery are emerging as the leading two contenders to replace Steve Bruce at Newcastle United.

Bruce remains in his position as Magpies manager despite Sunday’s 3-2 defeat to Tottenham, although it is widely regarded as only a matter of time before he is relieved of his position.

Amanda Staveley, who has assumed responsibility for the day-to-day running of the club, held meetings with a number of key advisors yesterday, with Bruce’s future one of the main topics being discussed.

Staveley is understood to be leaning heavily on the footballing advice of Frank McParland, the former head of recruitment at Rangers who has been closely involved with the new St James’ Park regime throughout the takeover process, and Owen Brown, PCP’s football consultant who was previously involved with the Magpies when Rafael Benitez was manager in an advisory role.

The pair are expected to recommend that Bruce is dismissed, with a large number of Newcastle supporters having delivered their verdict when they called for the 60-year-old to go in the closing stages of Sunday’s game with Spurs.

Any move to sack Bruce will have to be ratified by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which owns 80 per cent of the club, and the PIF is understood to be keen for a succession plan to be in place before a formal announcement is made.

It would be easier to Newcastle to approach an out-of-work boss such as Frank Lampard, Paulo Fonseca or Antonio Conte, and all three are regarded as potentially viable candidates.

However, at this stage, Gerrard and Emery are understood to be at the forefront of the new regime’s thoughts as they look to appoint someone capable of steering Newcastle away from relegation trouble.

Gerrard was asked directly about the Newcastle position at the end of last week, and it was telling that while the Rangers boss expressed his support from Bruce, he stopped short of ruling himself out of a possible move to Tyneside.

Sources in Scotland claim the former England international could well feel he has taken Rangers as far as they can go in the wake of last season’s Scottish Premier League title success, and would therefore be willing to leave Ibrox for a first managerial posting in the English top-flight.

However, Gerrard’s former Liverpool team-mate, Peter Crouch, has sounded a note of caution, suggesting the former midfielder’s ultimate aim will be to succeed Jurgen Klopp at Anfield.

“Let’s not mess about – here is Liverpool’s next manager. He has to be,” wrote Crouch, in his column in the Daily Mail. “Jurgen Klopp has that job for as long as he wants it, but he is not going to stay around forever. At some point, his family might want to move back to Germany. When that happens, Gerrard will be ready.”

Emery is currently manager of Villarreal, and while his sole spell in England did not really go to plan as he struggled to fill Arsene Wenger’s shoes at Arsenal, his proven track record with Sevilla, Paris St Germain and now Villarreal make him an extremely appealing candidate.

He led his current employers to Europa League success last season, beating Manchester United in the final, but is reportedly keen to right some perceived wrongs by succeeding in the Premier League.

He would be willing to work in the kind of continental-style structure that Newcastle’s new owners are hoping to establish on Tyneside, with Ralf Rangnick and Brian Marwood both having been touted for a sporting director or director of football role.

County Durham-born Marwood, who is currently employed as the managing director of global football for the City Group, the umbrella group of clubs that includes Manchester City, still has strong family links in the North-East.

Meanwhile, seven of Newcastle’s matches in November, December and January have been rescheduled as part of the latest round of TV fixtures.

The new dates for the games are: Norwich (h) – Tues Nov 30 (7.30), Leicester (a) – Sun Dec 12 (2.00), Liverpool (a) – Thurs Dec 16 (8pm), Man City (h) – Sun Dec 19 (2.00), Man Utd (h) – Mon Dec 27 (8.00), Everton (a) – Thurs Dec 30 (7.30), Southampton (a) – Sun Jan 2 (2.00).