RAFAEL BENITEZ is still interested in taking Andros Townsend back to Newcastle United in the summer - even if promotion back to the Premier League would see a different level of player targeted.

Townsend was left disappointed before the transfer window closed last week when the Magpies failed to reach an agreement over the terms of a deal with Crystal Palace.

But the 25-year-old will remain on Newcastle’s summer wish-list even if Benitez can finish off the push for a top two place in the Championship successfully.

It was never Benitez’s intention to buy players for the sake of it last month, believing that any signings would have to be capable of stepping up a level next season.

That was why Townsend and Everton midfielder James McCarthy were two of his main targets; while Bournemouth striker Calum Wilson was also on his wanted list had more cash been available.

In the end Benitez was left frustrated by the decision taken in the boardroom not to give Palace what they were looking for, despite knowing last summer he made a sizable profit in the market.

The Spaniard didn’t have any new signings added to his squad but he would be given funds to strengthen again in the close-season if promotion can be achieved.

And Townsend, an England winger, already figures prominently in the club’s transfer thinking, despite what happened last month when he stayed at Selhurst Park.

Palace wanted £15m to do the deal permanently while Newcastle only wanted to pay the £13m they sold him for, and refused to pay a £2m loan fee.

Newcastle had been told that Townsend was open to the idea of a return to St James’ Park too, having failed to hold down a starting spot under Sam Allardyce in south London.

But he will get the chance to make the same switch again in the summer if Newcastle do celebrate promotion back to the Premier League.

It could even be that the two clubs swap places after Palace’s top-flight future suffered a set-back against Sunderland.

There was relief all round when Newcastle edged a 1-0 win against Derby County on Saturday to reclaim top spot in the Championship – just days after transfer window frustration was followed by a home draw with Queens Park Rangers.

Victory meant the men from Tyneside reclaimed top spot and they now lead Brighton by a point; there is a six point gap to third spot and the play-off zone.

Newcastle head to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday hoping Dwight Gayle will be fit to make the trip to Molineux.

Aleksandar Mitrovic struggled to make an impact on his return to the league side against Derby, while Daryl Murphy didn’t come off the bench. Gayle has been missed and Benitez is hoping to be able to call on him this weekend.

The 20-goal striker will not be risked unnecessarily, however, and if there are any doubts then it could be that his comeback is against Norwich or Aston Villa next week. He has not played since suffering a hamstring injury last month at Brentford.

There will be 4,000 Newcastle supporters at Wolves this weekend and their manager, Paul Lambert, is desperate for improvements after losing to Burton.

Lambert said: “Newcastle will be a great atmosphere. There are some great games coming up. We’ve played a lot of high level games and come up with answers to win. I’m not going to let one defeat change the way I think the think of the lads or anything.”