By Noel Whelan

18th Dec, 2021 | 9:00am

Forget 'Championship player' Cook: Newcastle told to complete 'top six' signings in January - pundit

Noel Whelan has urged Newcastle to “aim higher” in January after Eddie Howe’s side were linked with Bournemouth’s Steve Cook.

The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted the 30-year-old is “ultimately a Championship player”.

According to The Sun (11 December), Howe wants to reunite with Cherries skipper Cook in January if Newcastle fail to land James Tarkowski and Ben Mee.

The English centre-back captained the Bournemouth side which suffered relegation at the end of the 2019-20 season with the now-Magpies boss at the helm.

When asked for his thoughts on Cook potentially joining, Whelan told Football Insider‘s Ewan Kingsbury: “Eddie Howe has worked with him, but ultimately he’s a Championship player.

“Can he make the grade in the Premier League again? Is he really a better player than Newcastle have already? Only Howe can answer those questions.

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“Bournemouth are flying high at the top of the Championship as well, they could make it hard for him to leave – especially in January in the middle of their promotion push.

“I just think they have to be aiming a bit higher. Look at players surplus to requirements in that top four, top six, get them in on loan to give them that opportunity – it’s a win-win for both sides.

“Having that bit more quality and experience in the Premier League could make the difference in the relegation battle.

“It will be difficult – especially with no sporting director at the club. All of the pressure is on Eddie Howe’s shoulders.”

Newcastle are second-bottom in the Premier League after 16 games, level on points with basement club Norwich.

The Magpies have conceded the most goals in the top flight this season (34).

In other news, pundit claims Newcastle “look worse” under Howe than they were with Steve Bruce in charge.