Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez is reportedly keeping a close eye on Liverpool fringe players Andrew Robertson, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Ings ahead of the January transfer window.

After starting the season encouragingly the Magpies' form has dropped off a cliff in recent months. Eight defeats from their last nine Premier League matches have seen Benitez's side fall from the top half to the bottom three, with no sign of a swift turnaround.

Benitez has made his desire to strengthen Newcastle's squad abundantly clear both in the summer and during the current campaign. But the former Liverpool and Chelsea boss does not know how much he will have to spend next month as a consortium fronted by Amanda Staveley attempts to thrash out an agreement with Newcastle's current owner Mike Ashley.

Benitez will presumably have to look for value in an increasingly exorbitant transfer market, with Newcastle not exactly flush for cash at present. The Spaniard is said to be contacting his connections at former clubs such as Chelsea and Liverpool, with peripheral Anfield figures Robertson, Sturridge and Ings firmly in his sights, according to The Chronicle.

Newcastle are bereft of any Premier League quality strikers after only signing Joselu in the summer transfer window. Dwight Gayle, while a prolific Championship marksman, is not fit for purpose in England's top-flight, while Benitez has little to no faith in fiery Serbian Aleksandar Mitrovic.

The dearth of adequate strikers on Tyneside has made Benitez turn to Ings, who is also being courted by West Ham United. The former Burnley striker recently made his comeback from a horrendous knee injury during Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Everton earlier this month but with the likes of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah all vying for a starting spot at Anfield, Ings may have to seek pastures new if he wishes to receive regular game-time.

The same goes for Sturridge, who has regularly found himself on the substitutes' bench under manager Jurgen Klopp. The England international, who still has designs on a place in Gareth Southgate's World Cup squad, may have to force a move away from Liverpool to enhance his chances of playing in Russia next summer, but Newcastle would have to hope that the Reds see fit to make him available for loan and sufficiently subsidise his wages, believed to be around £150,000-a-week, as they could not afford a permanent transfer.

Robertson, a summer signing for Liverpool from Hull City in the summer, has struggled to dislodge a resurgent Alberto Moreno this season, though he may have an opportunity to nail down a place in Klopp's starting line-up courtesy of a nasty foot problem suffered by the Spaniard. The Scotland international was eyed by Benitez during the summer, with the former Valencia boss keen to strengthen both full-back positions.

Despite Benitez's strong affinity with Liverpool, he did not manage to successfully negotiate deals with the Reds in the summer. Newcastle were hoping to snaffle Sheyi Ojo and Ryan Kent on season-long loans but Liverpool eventually farmed the attackers out to Fulham and Freiburg respectively, while Lucas Leiva, brought to Anfield by Benitez from Gremio in 2007, opted against a reunion with his former manager in order to join Lazio.

Benitez will hope talks over transfers with Liverpool are more fruitful next month, but his immediate focus rests on pulling the Geordies out of the mess in which they find themselves, starting with a trip to West Ham on Saturday (23 December).

Andrew Robertson
Robertson has not imposed himself on Liverpool's first-team set-up so far Getty Images