Moyes and Benitez wait in the wings as McClaren's Newcastle future hangs in the balance
Newcastle head coach Steve McClaren was back at work on Tuesday morning but his future at the club remained in doubt.
McClaren arrived at the club's Darsley Park training headquarters early, ready to put his players through their paces as usual at 10.30am.
There was a brief flurry of excitement when his car left again at around 9am, as reports claimed McClaren had departed, although it emerged that it was his driver and not the 54-year-old who was behind the wheel.
Press Association Sport understands that McClaren was treating the day as business as usual, although a decision on his future was likely to be made within the next 48 hours.
Newcastle, who lie just one place off the foot of the Barclays Premier League table with 10 games of their season remaining, are in serious danger of slipping out of the top flight for the second time in seven years.
They have won only once in their last six league games and were humbled 3-1 by Bournemouth at St James' Park on Saturday, when the crowd turned on McClaren for the first time.
The club's board, with the conspicuous absence of the head coach, met away from Tyneside on Monday with managing director Lee Charnley, chief scout Graham Carr and club ambassador Bob Moncur discussing possible ways forward.
They have to decide whether to take a gamble on leaving McClaren at the helm, or to replace him with time running out fast in a season which will determine whether they receive a full share of the new £5.14billion broadcast deal next season.
David Moyes, Rafael Benitez and Nigel Pearson could head the list of potential candidates if they opt to sack McClaren, although it will not be lost on any incoming boss that Alan Shearer was handed a late rescue mission back in 2009 and could not pull it off. He had just eight games in which to find an escape route.
McClaren's position is complicated by the fact that he was the choice of Charnley, rather than owner Mike Ashley, and dismissing him now could be viewed as an admission of failure on his part, while an £82million recruitment programme, much of which was in place before the former England boss was appointed, has still left huge gaps in the squad.