sport

Ashley presence buoys Pardew

Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew is hopeful the club's owner Mike Ashley is now aware of what is required to take the team forward.

The sportswear tycoon has been conspicuous by his presence at the Magpies' games since Pardew was banned, initially from all stadiums and now from the touchline, for his head-butt on Hull City midfielder David Meyler.

Ashley has seen Newcastle lose four of their last five Premier League games - against Fulham, Everton, Southampton and Manchester United - and Pardew hopes his eyes have been opened as he plans a summer rebuilding project.

Pardew, whose side travel to Stoke on Saturday, said: "I think that's been a positive, that he sees we need a bit of quality in the group, that the players are doing their best, but we do need more quality if we are going to impact the top of the league.

"We have played three teams - I know you could argue Southampton weren't above us at the time, but three teams in that top half.

"We have another one on Saturday and I think it's fair at the moment that we have been a little bit distant from them and we need to close that gap."

Two priorities for Pardew are to replace French midfielder Yohan Cabaye, who moved to PSG in January, and to secure a permanent deal for on-loan QPR striker Loic Remy if possible.

He said: "It's important that the squad is balanced and has a certain level of quality that represents this club. There's no doubt after the loss of Cabaye that we need to add quality to this group.

"We have the Remy situation that we need to resolve one way or the other. That needs to be addressed because we certainly need a player of his quality."