EDDIE HOWE has accepted Newcastle United will not have any new players on board ahead of tomorrow’s crucial relegation clash with Leeds – and admits the last seven days turned into a “fruitless search” for signings.

Newcastle have endured a frustrating week that have seen prolonged pursuits of Sevilla defender Diego Carlos and Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard in particular fail to come to fruition.

Sevilla continue to dig their heels in over Carlos, despite Newcastle having tabled a £30m bid and the Brazilian centre-half having indicated a desire to move to Tyneside, while the Lingard situation is complicated by Manchester United’s continued insistence that they want to sell the England international this month, even though the player is only willing to consider a loan.

As a result, Howe will take his side to Elland Road tomorrow with Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood still the only additions since the transfer window reopened at the start of the month.

Howe said: “Just looking at the clock, I think we can say that (there will be no new arrivals ahead of Leeds). It’s been a slightly frustrating week for us in the transfer market, I think.

“We obviously know we’re against a deadline, and everyone connected with the club is desperately trying to improve the squad. We’re working very hard behind the scenes, but it’s been a fruitless search this week.”

Howe feels the ongoing Covid pandemic is making clubs reluctant to release players, although he also concedes Newcastle are being asked to pay over-the-odds for their targets because of the club’s new-found Saudi Arabian wealth.

He said: “It’s a very difficult combination of things this January. When you add Covid to the mix, clubs are reluctant to lose players just in case there’s an outbreak at their club.

“January is already notoriously very difficult to bring in the right players, but when you add that in (it becomes even harder).

“Then I’m sure the takeover has elevated people’s expectations of what Newcastle can pay other clubs. Add that all together, and it’s been a very difficult window so far for everybody, but more so when you’re in our position and very keen to add to the group and try to change the dynamics of certain situations within the squad. It’s been very difficult.”