Alan Shearer hopes Newcastle United hand young gun Adam Armstrong his big chance in the Championship next season.
Armstrong impressed on loan at Coventry City last term, scoring 20 goals for the Sky Blues.
The striker – currently away on international duty with England Under-19s – will return to Tyneside next month for pre-season training, and has already expressed the desire to push for a first-team role at Newcastle.
With the Magpies having been relegated into the Championship, it opens up the possibility of more game time for Armstrong, especially after his success in League One.
Boss Rafa Benitez, however, is also looking for experienced performers to get the Tynesiders back into the Premier League at the first attempt, and may decide to send the 18-year-old back out on loan for another season.
Coventry director of football Mark Venus revealed they would like the player to spend another year with them, but Shearer hopes Benitez gives the young home-grown starlet a chance.
“I think he (Benitez) will certainly have a look at him,” said Shearer, Newcastle’s all-time leading goalscorer.
“He’s had a brilliant season, he’s scored goals – and in doing so did something Newcastle weren’t able to do.
“It might have been different leagues but I’m sure he’ll want to come back and show what he can do.
“Hopefully he’ll be given the chance to do that.”
Venus, however, believes Armstrong may benefit from having another season in League One, given the competition he will face for a spot at Newcastle if Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ayoze Perez remain, along with any signings Benitez may make.
And he also feels playing in the physical Championship may too be soon for the diminutive forward.
Venus said: “I think if Adam Armstrong was going out on loan again next year we would be stupid not to want him back – we’d welcome him back with open arms.
“Everyone has a different opinion on what’s best for his development. I think it was a hard season for Adam, physically, last season that took a lot out of him.
“With his international trips as well it was a physical learning curve for him and I think the Championship is another step up, physically, for a footballer.
“So I think that a progression might be if he comes back to League One and does even better than he did last year, and then he’ll only be 20 if Newcastle get promoted and then he could go into the Championship with two years of first team football under his belt.
“What if he goes to the Championship and doesn’t do very well? He might be coming back to this level at 21/22. These are all situations that managers, coaches, representatives have to judge for themselves; they have to dictate what’s best for these footballers.
“So I think everyone has to decide what’s best for the player and then, invariably, he will make the decision himself. But I would be careful stepping up too early into leagues that are pretty taxing, pretty demanding and pretty physical.
“And if Adam was to go out on loan again I think the manager would have to say, and from my point of view I think we should be interested in re-signing him because I think he was excellent for us.”