RAFAEL BENITEZ has warned West Ham United to forget about trying to sign Jonjo Shelvey during this month’s transfer window, and has categorically ruled out selling any Newcastle United players who are involved with the first team.

West Ham officials have contacted their counterparts at St James’ Park to discuss Shelvey’s situation, with sources in London claiming Hammers boss David Moyes has given the green light to a £12m bid.

In an ideal world, Benitez would be willing to consider the option of selling Shelvey if it meant he would be able make a midfield signing of his own in the £15m bracket. However, with Mike Ashley still refusing to commit to a guaranteed January transfer budget and with potential targets likely to prove extremely difficult to recruit in the final fortnight of the window, the Newcastle boss has ruled out any possibility of Shelvey leaving Tyneside this month.

The same is true of any other player currently involved in the Spaniard’s first-team plans, whether for a permanent transfer or loan deal. That might well limit Benitez’s ability to make signings of his own this month, but the Magpies manager appears to have concluded that the risk of losing someone without being able to adequately replace them is too great.

“Without saying any names, we are not thinking about selling anyone who is playing and who is ready, because we need players,” said Benitez, ahead of this afternoon’s Premier League home game with Swansea City. “If I am waiting for players to come, and it is very difficult to bring the players that you want, then you cannot sell the players that are already playing and – more or less – doing well.

“We can consider selling players who are not playing because as I have said before, (Jamie) Sterry and (Jack) Colback, we are not using and they need to play. So if someone is coming and approaching us about them, then we have to consider that.

“But the others? We cannot sell them because the others are already playing. Players who are not playing and everybody knows about, maybe they would be available.

“Yes, we have clubs asking for loans, loans, loans, but if we want to buy, we need money. So we cannot say we will let players leave on loan if we don’t have a replacement.

“So we have to just wait, work on our targets and try to get the players that we want. Then after, we can consider anything.”

Benitez is clearly frustrated at his inability to get any clarity about Ashley’s plans for the remainder of the month, but with the Newcastle owner’s PR advisor, Keith Bishop, in close attendance at yesterday’s pre-match press conference, the Magpies boss was doing his best to keep his emotions in check.

He remains hopeful of making two or three additions before the window closes at the end of the month, although he has had to downgrade his ambitions markedly since the turn of the year.

Kenedy’s loan deal could be tied up within the next few days, although Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has been vacillating over whether to allow the Brazilian to move to the North-East while his own team is preparing for an FA Cup third-round replay as well as crucial league games and the second leg of the semi-final of the Carabao Cup.

Benitez would also like to sign a left-back and centre-forward this month, with Liverpool’s Danny Ings still a live option in the latter position.

“We have until the 31st of January and I am confident that we will do what we have to do,” he said. “I have to wait and see if we can do that.

“I thought we could sign a player this week, but we couldn’t do it, so it is more or less the same. But we are working on a list of players and we have some names. My belief is that we will do what we have to do.

“We have to work with the names we have, and try to do our best in the conditions we are working in. We have to think we will do something before January 31, and I have made it clear we need some help. We need to strengthen certain positions. We still have some weeks to go, and have to keep working to try to do our best.”

Last month, it was hoped Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners group could help fund some January additions, but having been unable to agree a price with Ashley to buy the club, the North Yorkshire financier is understandably refusing to commit any of her own capital ahead of a possible agreement.

Reports yesterday suggested a Dubai-based group have also expressed an interest in buying out Ashley, but given that they have not even begun a formal process of due diligence, if they do harbour any serious ambitions of mounting a takeover, they are at an extremely formative stage.

As things stand, Ashley remains the sole source of transfer capital, but while the Sports Direct boss appears determined to keep his cheque book in his pocket, Benitez denies that the ongoing uncertainty regarding a possible takeover is having an adverse effect on the day-to-day running of the club.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “I have made clear what we have to do now, without thinking about what may happen in the future. For me, it is obvious. He (Ashley) knows he has to improve the team so that we have the quality which allows us to stay in the Premier League. It doesn’t matter what happens (with the takeover).”