By Danny Wright

Rafa Benitez would consider becoming the next West Ham manager if Newcastle fail to secure promotion to the Premier League, according to a report.

The Daily Mail reports that a move to replace the under-pressure Slaven Bilic is unlikely at the moment given Newcastle’s stranglehold at the top of the second tier.

The Championship-leading boss sees his side sit one point clear of Brighton at the top of the table, but Huddersfield are breathing down the necks of the two runaway leaders with a game in hand.

West Ham have been reportedly on the lookout to replace Bilic, who has failed to show convincing signs of progress this season.

After qualifying for the Europa League in 2015/16, the Irons have struggled to adapt to life at the London Stadium are currently 12th in the Premier League.

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The Mirror reported that Reading manager Jaap Stam is top of the Hammers’ shortlist to replace the Croat, with the ex-Manchester United defender recently revealing that he is flattered by the interest.

Benitez almost became the West Ham manager in 2015 before making a last-minute call to join Real Madrid.

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is desperate to keep the Spaniard on Tyneside after his frustration at failing to land Andros Townsend during the January transfer window.

The controversial owner has since sorted out the club’s hierarchy to make sure that there is no breakdown in the relations between Benitez and the club.

Newcastle have failed to win any of their last three league matches and have scored just one goal in the process.

They face strugglers Wigan and Burton in their next two fixtures.

In other West Ham news, Tony Gale has hit out at the club’s board.

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