BURNLEY are adamant they will not be selling James Tarkowski to Newcastle United during next month’s transfer window – even if it means losing the centre-half for free in the summer.

With his side still rooted to the foot of the table in the wake of Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw with Norwich City, Eddie Howe is working with Newcastle’s ownership to firm up spending plans for January.

The Magpies have conceded more goals than any other top-flight side this season, so strengthening the defence will be a key priority at the turn of the year.

Tarkowski has been identified as a leading target given that he is about to enter the final six months of his contract at Turf Moor and has rejected the Clarets’ offer of a new deal, even though they were willing to make the 28-year-old the highest-paid player in the club’s history.

Bolstered by the spending power of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, who own 80 per cent of the club, Newcastle would be willing to better that offer in an attempt to lure Tarkowski to St James’ Park.

West Ham United have also signalled their interest in the defender, with a possible £10m deal having been mooted, but Burnley boss Sean Dyche is adamant he will not countenance the idea of Tarkowski being sold next month.

Dyche is understood to have made his views clear to those above him, who do not want to go against their manager’s wishes and agree to a sale, even though it could well mean Tarkowski leaves for nothing when his contract expires in the summer.

Like Newcastle, Burnley are embroiled in a relegation battle, and Dyche feels it would be impossible to replace a player of Tarkowski’s ability if he was to leave in January. He is even more adamant that he should not be allowed to join one of the Clarets’ relegation rivals.

Newcastle officials are expected to test Burnley’s resolve with a formal offer next month, but Howe is already assessing alternative options. The Magpies head coach accepts he will have to be flexible next month, with a number of reports having claimed that Premier League clubs have pledged to adopt a ‘Anyone but Newcastle’ stance when it comes to allowing their players to leave in January as they remain unhappy at the league giving the green light to the Saudi-backed takeover.

Newcastle host Burnley this weekend in a game that will have major repercussions at the foot of the table, no matter what the outcome.

Federico Fernandez is set to retain his place in the Magpies’ backline even though Jamaal Lascelles will be available after serving a suspension. Ciaran Clark will miss out following his dismissal against Norwich.

Jamal Lewis is also expected to remain in the starting side, having impressed as he made his first league start of the season on Tuesday night.

“It’s my first league start since February, which has been a long time to not play competitive football for your club,” said Lewis. “I got a little taster against Burnley in the (Carabao) Cup, and I’ve really missed the feeling of getting that energy and being spurred on by the fans.

“On a personal note, it was a good night for me to get my feet wet again. Hopefully, I can get a good run of games and help the team get some points to climb up the table.”