By Harvey Byrne

Ciaran Clark has acclaimed Newcastle as a “massive club” after signing for them on Wednesday afternoon.

The former Aston Villa defender is convinced the Magpies are moving in the right direction despite suffering relegation last season.

Clark also suffered relegation with Villa but the Republic of Ireland international believes that the Toon will have a change in fortunes as Rafael Benitez prepares for his first full season at the helm.

The 26-year-old Harrow-born centre-back is understood to have moved to St James’ Park for £5million, after his release clause was activated and Clark is excited to get the season underway for Newcastle.

“Newcastle is a massive club, so I’m really happy to be here,” said the defender in his first interview to the club’s website.

“Importantly it is a club that is moving in the right direction and pushing for the right things, so I’m really excited to now be a part of that.”

Clark is a graduate of the Villa academy and he racked up 159 appearances for the club since making his debut as a teenager in 2009.

The announcement of Clark comes in as the Magpies also close in on the signing of midfielder Mohamed Diame from Hull.

The north-east giants activated a £4.5 million release clause in Diame’s contract on Monday morning.

The Republic of Ireland international featured on two occasions for his home country during the recently concluded European Championships in France.

In other Newcastle team news, Marca have claimed that Moussa Sissoko is not a target for Real Madrid this summer.