Steve McClaren
Steve McClaren's side are two points from safety in the Premier League after 20 matches. Getty Images

Newcastle United manager Steve McClaren says the Premier League relegation battlers are actively pursuing new signings in the January transfer window. Defeat to Arsenal sees the Magpies 18<sup>th in the table with two points separating them from safety after 20 games.

McClaren's need for new players to help ignite his side's bid for survival comes amid a 10-man injury list, the current longest in the top flight. The greatest concern surrounds the club's forward line amid reports via the club's official media partner – The Mirror – that striker Papiss Cisse will miss three months with a groin injury.

The St James' Park club made just five additions during the summer mercato and with owner Mike Ashley famously frugal during transfer windows, Newcastle supporters would have good reason to fear another period of limited activity. However, McClaren has confirmed club officials are working hard to chase potential targets.

"You know January has come now and there has been a lot of discussion about that," the Newcastle boss said. "But we're keeping quiet and we'll keep our discussions to behind the scenes. We're working very, very hard, believe you me, and when something breaks, and something needs to be told, we'll certainly let you know."

The greatest concern for Newcastle lies in attack where injuries to Cisse and Emmanuel Riviere leaves McClaren with wafer-thin options in front of goal. Strikers Ayoze Perez and Aleksandar Mitrovic have netted just seven times between them this term, contributing to the club having the third worst goal record in the Premier League.

The narrow loss to Arsenal was a microcosm of Newcastle's season with a failure to convert chances contributing to their downfall as Laurent Koscielny's goal kept Arsene Wenger's side top of the table. However goalkeeper Rob Elliot, one of the Magpies' stand-out performers this term, believes the side are close to recapturing their best form.

"I thought we played really well but we've got to start taking our chances," he told the Newcastle official website. "When you come to the Emirates, if they produce a bit of magic with the world-class players they've got, then you hold your hands up. But the way we conceded and the chances we had, everyone is so disappointed.

"The potential is there to be seen. I thought we dominated the game from start to finish. They put us under a bit of pressure but not as much as we put them under. Petr Cech was probably their best player, and I had the quietest game I've had in a while, which tells its own story.

"It's a good start to 2016 in terms of performance, but performances alone aren't good enough. We have to start picking up points, quickly. We're not far from cracking it. You can see we're almost there but it's fine margins and getting those things right. Those small things are the difference between winning and losing.

"Coming to Arsenal, nobody would have given us a chance, but we performed well and need to show that for the rest of the season. If we can keep showing that character and improve in a couple of areas, we should be alright."