Newcastle United have been advised to pursue Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge in the summer transfer window to boost their chances of survival in their first season back in the Premier League. Victory over Preston North End secured the Toon's return to the top flight at the first time of asking as Rafael Benitez's side joined Brighton and Hove Albion in securing promotion from the Championship.
A double from Ayoze Perez, Christian Atsu's strike and a penalty from Matt Ritchie saw off 10-man Preston at St James' Park. The Magpies can still win the Championship title but need Chris Hughton's side to lose both of their remaining games to stand any chance of finishing ahead of the Seagulls.
Attention has already turned to next season and how Newcastle can improve a squad already well-equipped for the challenge of staying in the Premier League. Among the players who could be available is Sturridge, who has been ruled out for the rest of this campaign due to a hip problem. The ex-Chelsea and Manchester City forward has made just five league starts this term but former Sunderland defender Micky Gray believes Sturridge would deliver survival for the north east club.
"He is a goalscorer who is going to get you 15, 20 goals a season," Gray told Talksport of Sturridge. "They might only get 25 to 30 games out of him at a push but those 15, 20 goals will keep you in the Premier League for another season. They should absolutely go and get him."
Just three wins in their last nine games have seen Newcastle stagger towards promotion, allowing Brighton to leapfrog them in the table. Part of their problems stemmed from a January transfer window that ended without a single new addition – the only club in the second tier to finish the period empty-handed.
Benitez publicly criticised the club for the failure to improve the squad and can ill-afford the same issues this summer upon Newcastle's Premier League return. Ex-Everton winger Peter Beagie believes it is a necessity for new signings to be made if they have any ambitions of staving off relegation.
"He has done what he stayed to do and it will be interesting to see what happens next year," Beagrie told Sky Sports. "The club will have to massively match his ambitions. They will have to spend a huge amount of money. They have showed they can do that – although they have balanced the books – because this squad is not good enough for the Premier League.
"The top players are –there's lots of them that are – but he needs to bolster that squad and it will be an even greater achievement for Rafa to get a mid-table position next year in the Premier League."