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Jan 18, 2020 at 5.30pm UK
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Steve Bruce has "no doubts" over Mike Ashley backing

:Headline: Steve Bruce has 'no doubts' over Mike Ashley backing:
The Magpies owner has loosened the purse strings in the last 12 months.

Steve Bruce is convinced Newcastle owner Mike Ashley wants to grow the club after sitting down with him to discuss January transfer business.

The pair met this week with half of the winter window having already passed, but head coach Bruce emerged confident that the Sports Direct magnate will back him if the right player is available at the right price.

His mood was in stark contrast to that of predecessor Rafael Benitez during most of his transfer windows on Tyneside, with the Spaniard's efforts to secure investment in the squad repeatedly falling on deaf ears.

Asked if he trusted Ashley after their discussions ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with Chelsea, Bruce replied: "Do I trust him? What a good question.

"I have no doubts, the way he's been with me, and I have no doubts what he's said has been 100 per cent right so far.

"He was very positive this week. We have to have a working relationship."

Newcastle, of course, remains for sale, as it has been for much of Ashley's near 13-year tenure, with a series of prospective buyers having failed to reach agreement.

Supporters have grown increasingly cynical about the sportswear tycoon's motives and although he has sanctioned significant spending in the last 12 months – Miguel Almiron, Joelinton and Allan Saint-Maximin alone cost a total of £81million – they are not expecting a major outlay this month.

However, Bruce insists that progress, rather than mere top-flight survival, is Ashley's aim.

He said: "I think he thinks it's the way forward for the club, like I do."

That said, Bruce will not be swayed from his determination only to recruit players who are better than the ones he already has despite an apparent need to strengthen up front, with Joelinton scoring just his second goal in 24 appearances in midweek and Dwight Gayle facing up to six weeks on the sidelines as Andy Carroll continues to struggle for fitness.

The 59-year-old, who is understood to have an interest in Inter Milan winger Valentino Lazaro, said: "I believe the addition of an Almiron or Saint-Maximin, that sort of level improves you. That is what we are looking for.

"If they're no better than what you've got here, what's the point of that?"

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1Liverpool29271166214582
2Manchester CityMan City28183768313757
3Leicester CityLeicester29165858283053
4Chelsea29146951391248
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd29129844301445
6Wolverhampton WanderersWolves29101364134743
7Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd28111073025543
8Tottenham HotspurSpurs29118104740741
9Arsenal2891364036440
10Burnley29116123440-639
11Crystal Palace29109102632-639
12Everton29107123746-937
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2998122541-1635
14Southampton29104153552-1734
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton29611123240-829
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham2976163550-1527
17Watford2969142744-1727
18Bournemouth2976162947-1827
19Aston Villa2874173456-2225
20Norwich CityNorwich2956182552-2721
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TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Leeds UnitedLeeds37218856302671
2West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom371913564372770
3Fulham371810952381464
4Brentford371791164333160
5Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest371612948381060
6Preston North EndPreston37168135045556
7Bristol City371510125153-255
8Millwall37131594440454
9Cardiff CityCardiff37131595250254
10Blackburn RoversBlackburn371411125245753
11Swansea CitySwansea371314104645153
12Derby CountyDerby371312124949051
13Queens Park RangersQPR37148155862-450
14Reading37139154642448
15Sheffield WednesdaySheff Weds37139154649-348
16Birmingham CityBirmingham371211144857-947
17Stoke CityStoke37126194955-642
18Huddersfield TownHuddersfield37119174558-1342
19Middlesbrough37914143747-1041
20Wigan AthleticWigan371011163850-1241
21Hull City37118184963-1441
22Charlton AthleticCharlton37109184454-1039
23Luton TownLuton37105224371-2835
24Barnsley37810194262-2034
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