SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY manager Steve Bruce is closing in on a switch to hometown club Newcastle United – and could be confirmed as the new Magpies chief before the weekend.
Bruce is understood to have travelled north for extended talks with officials at the Tyneside club on Thursday after informing the Owls hierarchy that he wanted to take on the challenge of managing the Premier League outfit – who have targeted him to replace Rafael Benitez.
The Hillsborough chief had reportedly met Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley for an initial get-together in Manchester on Wednesday night to speak about the position after returning home from the Owls’ pre-season trip to Portugal earlier in the day.
Discussions with Magpies bosses continued throughout on Thursday and should a compensation package be thrashed out and barring any other last-minute hitches, Bruce is likely to be confirmed as Newcastle manager.
Bruce is on a rolling one-year contract at Wednesday and despite reports suggesting that the Magpies will only have to pay around £1m in compensation for his services, it is understood that any financial package would be significantly higher.
The Magpies travel out to China on Saturday for the Premier League Asia Trophy and while visa issues could restrict Bruce from flying out with the squad to the Far East, the club are hopeful that he will be able to be introduced to the players in Asia next week.
Bruce’s Owls’ assistants Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence are also likely to move to Newcastle and join his backroom team, according to reports.
Corbridge-born Bruce has previously turned down two opportunities to manage the Magpies for differing reasons, but is now determined not to pass up the prospect of taking charge of the club he supported as a boy at the third – and most likely final – time of asking.
If Bruce leaves Hillsborough, his 18-match reign will equal the shortest ever tenure of a permanent Owls manager, with Peter Eustace managing the club for the same amount of games in the late Eighties.
Meanwhile, Wednesday have completed their second incoming transfer of the summer after completing the expected signing of right-back Moses Odubajo after his release from Championship rivals Brentford.
The former Hull City and Leyton Orient player, 25, who linked up with the club at the start of pre-season, has signed a two-year deal.