Mike Ashley gives Rafa Benitez green light to sign THREE players - report

Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley
Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley
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Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez has been given the go-ahead to bring in up to three new signings to help in the fight for Premier League survival, according to reports today.

Press Association Sport have reported that owner Mike Ashley has sanctioned the move having accepted the Spaniard's argument that he needs further help if he is to keep the club in the top flight and secure another installment of the riches that would bring.

However, it is understood that Benitez and managing director Lee Charnley will have limited funds with which to work as they step up their ongoing efforts to bolster a squad which was left short during the summer transfer window.

The manager drew up a series of targets some time ago and hoped to have new additions in place by this Saturday, although with the January market proving as difficult as ever, progress has been painfully slow.

Efforts to tie up a loan deal for Chelsea youngster Kenedy have been held up at the Stamford Bridge end, while Liverpool striker Danny Ings has indicated he would prefer to stay at Anfield and fight for his place after his return to fitness.

With time fast running down, Newcastle will hope for movement on one or both fronts, while at the same time turning their attention to alternatives.

Benitez could boost his pot and free up wages by offloading current members of his squad with Jack Colback and Henri Saivet among those considered surplus to requirements. However, he has insisted he has no plans to sell any player currently playing amid speculation over the futures of Chancel Mbemba, Jonjo Shelvey and Christian Atsu.

Ashley has made his move with the Magpies sitting in 15th place in the table with 23 points from as many games and just three clear of the drop zone ahead of Saturday's trip to leaders Manchester City.

His hopes of selling the club by Christmas are now a distant memory and while the channels of communication with Amanda Staveley's PCP Capital Partners remain open, sources on Tyneside were mystified on Tuesday by claims that an improved offer had been made.

With little prospect of a swift breakthrough, the sportswear magnate has given Charnley, the man who does the deals, the green light to strengthen in a bid to protect his investment, and the success or otherwise of his mission over the next fortnight or so could prove critical.