NEWCASTLE United owner Mike Ashley is willing to bankroll a renewed European challenge next season, according to manager Alan Pardew.
Ashley, unlike the still banned Pardew, will be at St James’s Park tonight to see his side take on Everton.
The billionaire, rarely seen at the stadium in recent seasons, has watched the club’s last two fixtures against Crystal Palace and Fulham.
Many fans fear the summit of Ashley’s ambition for Newcastle is a healthy balance sheet and a top-10 finish, with the club having failed to make a permanent signing in the last two transfer windows.
But Pardew, having spoken at length to Ashley (left), is adamant he retains a passion for football - as well as financial figures.
“We’re very much looking forward to planning in the summer to take the team forward,” Pardew said.
“There’s no doubt we need to replace (January departure Yohan) Cabaye, and we need to get ourselves one or two strikers that are going to give us a chance of European football.”
Asked if discussions had taken place already ahead of a summer of transition at the club, Pardew said: “(They will take place in) a couple of weeks time. In terms of the scouting team, we know what we’re doing. You’ve got to manage the squad in terms of where their contracts are, but there’s no doubt we need to bring some offensive players into this group, particularly a Cabaye replacement.
“Really and truly, the chat with Mike will be about finance rather than actual targets.”
Pardew - who serves the final game of his three-match stadium ban for headbutting Hull City’s David Meyler tonight - said earlier this month that his relationship with Ashley was stronger than ever.
H Striker Sammy Ameobi has suffered another injury - and faces an extended spell on the sidelines.
Ameobi returned to training last week after recovering from a knee problem. But he won’t be involved against Everton after picking up an ankle injury. Pardew has also revealed defender Davide Santon isn’t yet ready to return from a bout of tonsillitis, despite training yesterday.
Forward Loic Remy (calf) and defender Mathieu Debuchy (groin) aren’t expected back until well into next month.