By Editor Wayne Veysey| Former Evening Standard, Press Association and Goal chief correspondent with 17 years experience of breaking big stories, including exclusives like this

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Rafael Benitez is set to be appointed the new manager of Newcastle, Football Insider sources understand.

The former Liverpool, Chelsea and Real Madrid boss is in advanced talks with the Premier League club to take over by the end of the week.

A well-placed source has told Football Insider that Benitez is in line to replace Steve McClaren, who will be sacked in the wake of a catastrophic run of results that has left the club second from bottom of the Premier League.

The Newcastle board have held off from sacking McClaren while they source a suitable replacement.

The top brass at St James’ Park, led by managing director Lee Charnley, are now confident they have that man in Benitez, who has been out of work since being sacked by Real in January.

The Spaniard is in line to be in charge by the time Newcastle play their next Premier League match, away to Leicester next Monday.

Newcastle chiefs are hopeful that by acting now they can stem the crisis that has engulfed the club in the wake of the weekend 3-1 home defeat to Bournemouth.

Despite three successive losses and just 24 points, Newcastle are still just two points from safety with ten games left to play.

Dead man walking: McClaren took training today despite intense speculation

Benitez has the calibre and track record to arrest the decline and get the best out of an underperforming squad that is rated as one of the best in the second half of the Premier League table.

McClaren has taken training in the last two days although the former England manager has told friends that he expects to be axed by the club.

Reports have indicated that the Newcastle players have already moved on from McClaren although the Magpies have strongly denied this.