WITH a free weekend and many players on international duty, the last seven days have been quiet at Newcastle United. The work behind the scenes, however, goes on and plans are being put in place to work towards the next couple of transfer windows.

As assistant manager John Carver chatted at the club's Benton training headquarters, he was waiting for the call from manager Alan Pardew to inform him of where he will be heading on a scouting mission.

Carver will not be the only one. Newcastle were represented at international matches across the globe last night and that will continue into next week when the next round of fixtures is scheduled.

Newcastle's No 2 did not want to reveal targets or even suggest the fixtures which were going to be covered, but the intention was clear: to run the rule over a list of possibilities.

There is no way that Newcastle, guilty of over-spending purely on reputation in the past, will be investing in players that they are not familiar with.

"We've made a decision on the players we grade highly, we will put together the data on them," said Carver. "We've got a couple of analysts beneath the backroom team who put that together.

"If he's a centre-forward we'll look at his movement, his scoring, his fitness stats. Then we'll look at his value in the current market depending on age. We're quite thorough and we compare them to players in the Premier League.

"We also have a section where we tap into as many contacts as we can about personality and character. You can have a top, top player who might have ability, but you don't know whether his character might unsettle the group."

Sochaux's Modibo Maiga is high among the strikers being watched, while the likes of Freiburg's Papiss Cisse has also been considered.

But what Newcastle are also keen to do is avoid preventing promising talents coming through the academy, which has happened repeatedly.

There is now a conscious drive from St James' Park aimed at trying to ensure they have an academy which can produce home-grown talents as effectively as Middlesbrough have done in the recent past.

"It feels if we're going in the right direction there but it's also about ‘Can we be competitive there'?" he said. "There's no reason why we can't compete with Manchester United, Arsenal and the rest. Why can't we attract top young players? We've got great facilities, coaches and set-up. If you do that you might just get a step on Manchester United.

"We lost Michael Carrick because Kevin Keegan didn't have a reserve team. His parents asked me ‘Where's he going to play John?' I said the first team and they told me to come off it. We had the entertainers here, he was never going to get in. So they took him to West Ham.

"The reason why we've had a problem since then is because we've had so many people in charge of the academy. We haven't had people to see a certain development programme through.

"Now the kids are seeing the young Sammy Ameobi coming through, Haris Vuckic, who's been in the system a long time. Shane Ferguson is the same. The encouraging thing for the club is that there's a pathway for them now, which there maybe wasn't when the club was spending a lot of money on new players. The culture is changing. The manager has said he will play them if they're good enough - like he played Ferguson at Stoke."

Newcastle's trip to Anfield to face Liverpool will now take place on Friday, December 30 instead of New Year's Eve.

Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye was injured in last night's 3-0 French win over Albania and it is feared he has damaged ankle ligaments.