By Emma Sanders

Stan Collymore says Rafa Benitez’s influence on Newcastle has been immense and will ensure they overtake rivals Sunderland in the very near future.

The pundit claims Newcastle should make a return to the Premier League while Sunderland look doomed to be relegated from the English top flight.

Collymore heaped huge praise on the current Newcastle boss in his latest column for the Mirror and expects a shift in power in the north east.

“Rafa Benitez has the Toon on a seemingly inevitable march back to the Premier League, while the Black Cats are once again scrapping for their lives,” Collymore wrote.

“In Rafa Benitez, Newcastle have a manager who has taken control of their destiny in a way Sunderland can only dream about.

“While Benitez has the vibe of a man who knows what he wants and is on track to accomplish his goals, Sunderland boss David Moyes looks shot to bits just three months into the job.”

Newcastle suffered their second relegation in seven years last season while their rivals, Sunderland managed to cling onto a spot in the Premier League.

However, in just six months, Benitez seems to have turned things around at the Toon and his side currently sit in -first position in the Championship with a three point lead over Brighton.

They have played some great football too and have notched up ten victories in their opening 14 league games, including a 6-0 win against QPR.

Newcastle built on their impressive league form to secure a place in the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup against Hull with a 6-0 victory against Preston on Tuesday evening.

In contrast, Sunderland have won just two of their last ten games and Moyes is coming under increasing pressure from fans to succeed.

In other Newcastle news, Jamie Carragher has issued an apology to Newcastle after dig.