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Steve Bruce’s only real concern is that Mike Ashley may decide he does not need any expensive new players after all.

Newcastle’s owner attended his first home match of the season before a transfer summit with his manager and watched Bruce’s previously shot-shy side not only score freely but monopolise possession to an almost unprecedented degree.

Rochdale may have conjured the first chance but very soon after Jimmy Keohane’s right-footed shot from outside the area zoomed narrowly wide of Karl Darlow’s goal, Newcastle were in front.



It is all very well having an FA Cup fourth round home tie with Oxford to look forward to – not to mention a potential appearance in the fifth round for the first time since 2006 – but Newcastle’s Premier League status is still far from secure and they could do with reinforcement at centre-forward, in central midfield and on the wing.

Maybe, just maybe, Ritchie, Almirón and company might have converted the owner to the magic of the Cup.

As Newcastle cantered into a three-goal first-half lead it seemed there would be no danger of Wilbraham being given the cold shoulder by Steve Bruce’s daughter Amy, who recently did the interior design of an extension to the striker’s house in Cheshire.

To the considerable dismay of Newcastle supporters, Ashley has long maintained that cups are not a priority and, during his near 13-year tenure, weakened black-and-white XIs have duly exited in the early rounds but Bruce has pledged to change that narrative.
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