By Matt Farr

Newcastle legend and current BBC pundit Alan Shearer is confident that Newcastle will return to the Premier League this season.

The Magpies are currently top of the Championship with 49 points from 22 games; but they face great competition from second-placed Brighton, who are just a point behind.

Rafa Benitez’s side remain the outright favourites to win promotion back to the Premier League, and as it stands, they are going to go one better and lift the Championship title also.

Shearer, who scored 206 goals in 405 appearances for Newcastle, believes that the Magpies will soon be back in the top-flight.

He told the Greek edition of FourFourTwo magazine: “Yes, I believe Newcastle will rise again in the Premier League.

“This is a city that has only one club. The support and assistance around the world is astounding.

“The fans have been hungry for success for too long, and I hope they do not have to wait much longer. People in Newcastle live for football and their team, and worship whoever gives his best for them.”

Despite finishing in the Premier League’s bottom three last season, Benitez has managed to retain the services of many of his stars, whilst also adding further top-flight experience to his squad.

Dwight Gayle, who joined from Crystal Palace in the summer, has led from the front as Newcastle’s top goalscorer with 17 goals from just 20 appearances in all competitions.

The likes of Matt Ritchie, Christian Atsu, Isaac Hayden, and DeAndre Yedlin also made the decision to drop down from England’s top-flight in the summer.

They are next in action on Boxing Day when they host fellow promotion candidates Sheffield Wednesday at St. James’ Park.

In other Newcastle news, Rafa Benitez has given this verdict on promotion rivals Leeds.