By North-east correspondent Harry Sykes
Lee Clark is convinced Newcastle will be able to attract better players if Rafael Benitez remains as manager in the summer.
Benitez signed a three-year contract when he replaced Steve McClaren but it includes a break clause if the Magpies are relegated from the Premier League.
Newcastle, Sunderland and Norwich are locked in a three-way battle to stay in the Premier League, with two of them set to join relegated Aston Villa in the Championship next season.
Benitez’s side are 19th in the league on 30 points but have accumulated five points in their last three matches and are just one point behind 17th placed Sunderland, who also have a game in hand on the Magpies, and Norwich.
Former Newcastle midfielder Clark, who is now manager of Scottish Premiership side Kilmarnock, has no doubts Benitez will stay if the club retain their Premier League status.
“100 per cent, I think so,” Clark told talkSPORT on Friday morning. “He wouldn’t have come in unless he got the guarantees he wanted – on the recruitment side and being the main man.
“We all know that if we stay up, he will also attract the players. It’s difficult for the north-east clubs to attract players when you’re up against London, the Manchester clubs and Liverpool, but if we’ve got Benitez, it will help us no end to attract the top end players.”
Newcastle’s three remaining matches are against FA Cup finalists Crystal Palace, relegated Villa and title chasers Tottenham.
“The dynamic of the games have changed a little bit, with Palace having the cup final and Spurs’ title challenge looking over,” Clark added to talkSPORT. “The optimism is growing in the city, we’ve got a top drawer manager. They’re showing a fighting spirit.
“The next three games are against teams who have nothing to play for. Lady luck might be looking on us as a club. Coupled with having Rafa Benitez at the helm, it is a lot more positive than three or four weeks ago.
“My heart always rules my head so I’m going for the black and whites.”
Allardyce is convinced that Benitez’s team are the major threat to his own club’s chances of top-flight surivival, even though the Magpies are a point behind 18th-placed Norwich and have played a game more.
In other Newcastle news, the club are preparing a summer move for a 26-year-old Arsenal international.