NEWCASTLE UNITED are increasingly confident of being able to prise Sven Botman from Lille, despite the French club continuing to insist they do not want to lose the Dutch centre-half.

Having completed the capture of Kieran Trippier yesterday morning, with the England international agreeing a two-and-half-year deal to become the first signing of the Magpies’ new Saudi Arabia-backed era, Eddie Howe is hoping to continue his defensive overhaul by landing Botman, a Netherlands Under-21 international.

The Magpies had an initial offer of around £30m rejected by Lille officials at the start of this month, with the Ligue 1 club adamant they do not want to lose the Dutch defender.

However, Newcastle officials tabled a significantly improved offer yesterday morning in an attempt to force the Lille hierarchy to shift their position.

While Lille have progressed to the knockout stages of the Champions League, their financial situation could make it difficult for them to reject the Magpies’ latest bid and, crucially, Botman has indicated a willingness to move to St James’ Park if a deal can be agreed.

“I can’t give any promises,” said Howe, when asked about the potential for further signings ahead of this afternoon’s FA Cup third-round game with Cambridge United.

"We are working, and we have been working for a considerable amount of time to improve the squad. That’s where the priorities stand, although there’s nothing imminent right at this moment coming through the door.

“But we’re working hard to improve the squad, and we will be for the duration of January. That’s how the window will be. The outlook is changing by the hour, and we’re working very hard to improve the squad.

“We’re looking in all positions because that’s our role, and that’s what we have to do for the benefit of the club. If there’s a player out there that can strengthen us and give us a better chance of staying in the division, we’ll look at him. There’s a lot of work going on. We’re trying to make the right decisions for the long term and short term.”

When asked to comment specifically on Newcastle’s interest in Botman, Howe added: “I’m not going to comment on individual players, due to respect for the player and the club that he plays for.”

Newcastle have also held discussions with Norwich City over midfielder Todd Cantwell, whose contract at Carrow Road is due to expire in the summer.

Norwich have the option to extend his contract by another year, but may look to cash in this month by selling the 23-year-old for between £15-20m.

While strengthening the defence was always going to be a key priority this month, Howe and the rest of Newcastle’s recruitment team have also been forced to focus on attacking targets because of the ongoing uncertainty over Callum Wilson’s injury situation.

Wilson injured his calf during last month’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United, but while the England international will definitely be out for a number of weeks, initial tests have proved inconclusive when it comes to determining the precise extent of the problem.

Newcastle’s leading scorer is due to undergo another series of scans at the start of next week, which should provide a clearer picture of his recovery timeframe. In a worst-case scenario, it is understood there is a chance Wilson could not play again this season.

Howe has been assessing various attacking targets in the last week or so – Brazilian forward Gabriel Barbosa is known to have been under serious consideration – but he accepts it will be extremely difficult to recruit a proven goalscorer in January.

“We don’t have a clear diagnosis (on Wilson) at the moment,” admitted Howe. “Callum will have another scan very shortly to try to know exactly how long he will be out. There’s still a little bit of grey over the length of time.

“Depending on those results, that will possibly impact on what we do. But it’s all dependent on who is available and who we can recruit because it’s probably the toughest position at any time of the year to recruit in. The quality of players in that position is really very short on the ground.

“First and foremost, my thoughts are with Callum. I hope his injury isn’t serious and we can get him on the pitch as quick as possible because we know how important he is for us. Then, after that, we’ll make a decision.”