Rafa Benitez considered by Newcastle United as Steve McClaren's future hangs in the balance – reports

The Spaniard is available after parting company with Real Madrid in January

Newcastle head coach Steve McClaren’s future appeared to be coming to a head amid reports he was meeting managing director Lee Charnley on Wednesday 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 Barclays 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 manager was due to meet Charnley after training, according to Sky Sports News.

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.

The Spaniard is available after parting company with Real in January, as are former Everton and Manchester United boss David Moyes and ex-Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.

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