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Rafa favourite to replace McClaren


Rafael Benitez Photo: SERGEI SUPINSKY

Rafael Benitez Photo: SERGEI SUPINSKY

Rafael Benitez Photo: SERGEI SUPINSKY

Newcastle head coach Steve McClaren's future appeared to be coming to a head amid reports he was meeting managing director Lee Charnley yesterday afternoon.

The club are understood to have sounded out a series of possible replacements, including former Real Madrid boss Rafael Benitez, as they consider replacing 54-year-old McClaren after just nine months in his job. The Magpies have slumped to 19th place in the Premier League. McClaren has battled all season to edge Newcastle up the table but, despite an investment in new players of more than £82million, they have continued to struggle and slumped to a 3-1 defeat against Bournemouth on Saturday.

McClaren has taken training for the last two days ahead of Monday's trip to leaders Leicester, but he did so as the club's hierarchy assessed options, with a place in next season's top flight at stake and the estimated £100million that will be worth. The former England boss met Charnley after training.

Three members of the club's football board - Charnley, chief scout Graham Carr and club ambassador Bob Moncur - met on Monday in the absence of the fourth, McClaren.

Sources close to Benitez have indicated he would have a qualified interest in any vacancy having parted company with Real in January. Former Everton and Manchester United boss David Moyes and ex-Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers are also available.