SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY are braced for an official approach from Newcastle United for manager Steve Bruce – less than five-and-a-half months since he started work at Hillsborough.
The St James’ Park outfit have targeted boyhood Magpies fan Bruce as their number one choice to replace Rafael Benitez and are reportedly keen to seal the appointment before they head off to China for the Premier League Asia Trophy at the weekend.
Corbridge-born Bruce returned from the Owls’ pre-season training camp in Portugal on Wednesday and Newcastle are now eager to put the wheels in motion to tempt him back to his native north-east.
As of last night, no formal approach had been made for Bruce and despite Newcastle’s confidence in landing him, Wednesday are unlikely to lose the 58-year-old without a fight.
Bruce is on a rolling one-year contract 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.
Newcastle are focusing on bringing in a manager with seasoned Premier League credentials, with vastly-experienced Bruce – who has managed the Magpies’ big rivals Sunderland among others – viewed as a safe pair of hands by club owner Mike Ashley.
Bruce found himself installed as the bookmakers favourite to replace Benitez on Tuesday, with some even suspending betting.
Asked about the rumours before leaving Portugal, Bruce, who officially began his role with the Owls on February 1 after a pre-planned break from the game, said: “It is news to me.
“God only knows what happened on Tuesday afternoon. There seemed to be an upsurge (in the betting) from somewhere.
“John Terry was favourite yesterday. It was Mikel Arteta the day before, so who knows?
“As far as I am concerned, I am here, I am going home tomorrow (Wednesday) and looking forward to walking the dog.”
The Owls yesterday completed their first signing of the summer in the shape of German defender Julian Borner.