Newcastle United had 'two or three things' in place seven months before the summer transfer window even opened earlier this year. These are unprecendented times - restrictions on travel have limited what the Magpies' scouts can do abroad - but it goes without saying that planning is already well under way for 2021.

Steve Bruce, like most managers, prefers to do his business in the summer because clubs are a little more open to selling players as there is more time to line up potential replacements.

Newcastle failed with a big-money bid for Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare last January - the midfielder preferred to keep his options open for the summer - so Bruce ultimately carried over his mid-season transfer budget and it would not be a surprise if the Magpies' head coach opted to do that once again.

However, if the right player becomes available on loan, who would immediately improve a particular department, do not be surprised if Newcastle are active next month.

A year ago, Bruce kept an eye on players who were a little out of favour. However fanciful, Bruce explored moves for Granit Xhaka and Olivier Giroud last winter and you can bet he will be up to date on those players who need game time at Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City and Manchester United in particular.

While Newcastle had no plans to sign a left-back before Jetro Willems suffered a serious knee injury 13 days before the window shut last January, tellingly, the Magpies went on to target Danny Rose, who barely featured under Jose Mourinho at Spurs.

Newcastle will have to make room in their 25-man squad if they are to sign any players next month but if there was any chance of, say, Fikayo Tomori, Japhet Tanganga or Xherdan Shaqiri becoming available on loan, it will be interesting to see if Newcastle enquire.

Bruce has a good relationship with a number of top six managers and that trust has proved crucial to promising players being loaned to his clubs in the past.

Take Mourinho, for example. During his time in charge of Manchester United, the Portuguese even signed off on extensions to Sam Johnstone and Axel Tuanzebe's loans so that Bruce could keep them at Aston Villa a little longer.

All the while, Mourinho was in regular contact with Bruce to see how the loanees were getting on and those loan spells proved crucial to Johnstone and Tuanzebe's development.

Just as Bruce will be assessing potential loan signings next month, the Newcastle head coach will also be looking ahead to the summer and you can bet the 59-year-old has been scanning the list of players who will be available on Bosmans.

It is worth nothing that Jeff Hendrick and Mark Gillespie knew of the Magpies' interest long before they joined the club on free transfers last summer. In Hendrick's case, in particular, ChronicleLive understands Newcastle 'got into him early'.

Bruce was keen for the hierarchy to listen to his request for players with Premier League experience - Gillespie, admittedly, has never played in the top-flight but the goalkeeper was previously on the club's books so he has not needed much time to settle - and that was particularly important given the short turnaround before the new campaign got under way.

Callum Wilson has more than vindicated that shift in policy and Premier League experience will be an important quality in 2021, too. To what extent? Well, in theory, Newcastle' scouts will be able to roam more freely next year after having to rely on Wyscout in recent months as Bruce previously alluded to.

"The technology today is quite remarkable but it's not quite the same as seeing people live so we're identifying the targets that we would look at and hopefully get the chance to see them live because buying someone without seeing them live is certainly not my cup of tea and it's certainly not [head of recruitment] Steve Nickson's, either," Bruce said back in October.

Of course, it is worth noting that there are current targets in France, Germany and on the continent who the club's talent spotters have previously watched in person.

But it will be interesting to see if Bruce again pushes for Premier League experience or if the upcoming summer window ends up being a blend of his first summer in charge, when deals for Joelinton, Allan Saint-Maximin et al were already lined up before his appointment, and his most recent window, when British and Irish players were targeted.