By Matt Farr

Pundit Don Hutchison believes Newcastle owner Mike Ashley must sit down with Rafa Benitez and discuss the plans for next season as soon as possible, following a disastrous transfer window.

The Daily Mail claimed that Benitez was frustrated with owner Mike Ashley for his lack of support in the transfer market, and Hutchison believes that the pair must now take a time-out and discuss the long-term plan.

The Spaniard was particularly keen to bring England international winger Andros Townsend back to the club, but despite a protracted transfer saga, his pursuit proved fruitless.

In his column for the Chronicle, Hutchison said: “The biggest irritation was the transfer window, which shut without Rafa Benitez signing any of the players he was hoping for in January. Rafa’s obviously a bit frustrated, and I can understand that.

“The process can’t wait until the end of the campaign and Rafa needs to sit down with Mike Ashley as soon as possible to work out what money he has to spend, and who he is allowed to spend it on.

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“January should have been the start of building his squad for next season’s Premier League, which is why he was after players like Andros Townsend, who are proven at that level.

“The worry now is that by waiting until the summer, someone like Tottenham or Everton might step in to sign a player the Magpies had their eye on.”

Promotion back to the top-flight is not yet set in stone for Newcastle, although they are making a pretty good case for it.

They are currently top of the Championship, one point clear of rivals Brighton, with 17 games left to play. They face Wolves at Molineux on Saturday, hoping to stretch their unbeaten run to five games.

In other Newcastle news, fans have reacted on Twitter as Cheick Tiote nears the end of his Newcastle career.

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