Newcastle United briefing: Rafa Benitez shows his class, Newcastle linked with Celtic defender

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez
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Newcastle United have been linked with more names as Rafa Benitez starts work on summer transfers.

Benitez last week agreed to stay on at St James's Park after owner Mike Ashley pledged to back him in the transfer market.

United have been linked with a soon-to-be-available defender and a title-winner with Celtic.

Here's your daily briefing:

Classy

Benitez had an important event to attend in Liverpool yesterday.

Rafa Benitez at 'Run for the 96'

Rafa Benitez at 'Run for the 96'

United's manager showed his class by supporting the 'Run for the 96' event at Stanley Park.

The event, now in its third year, is a special race run in memory of those Liverpool supporters who lost their lives in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

And Benitez – whose family still live on Merseyside – cheers competitors and signed autographs.

The former Liverpool manager previously donated £96,000 to the Hillsborough Family Support Group.

Harry Maguire

Harry Maguire

Fire sale?

Hull City were yesterday relegated from the Premier League after being beaten 4-0 by Crystal Palace.

They will join Sunderland and Middlesbrough in the Championship, leaving Newcastle as the only top-flight club north of Manchester.

A clutch of clubs are interested in Hull defender Harry Maguire, who is keen to stay in the Premier League.

Jack Colback

Jack Colback

Newcastle have been linked with a move for the 24-year-old, who spoke about his future last week.

Maguire said: "I’m very happy here, but playing in the Premier League is my main aim."

Benitez is looking to strengthen his defence this summer.

And United have also been linked with Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic by the Scottish Sun.

The 22-year-old is said to be rated in the £9million-bracket by the Scottish Premiership champions.

Meanwhile, Derby County have been linked with a move for defender Grant Hanley.

Great expectations

Benitez has turned a losing team into a winning one.

And Newcastle midfielder Jack Colback has been speaking about the remarkable turnaround at the club, which was relegated just over a year ago.

“The expectations have been bigger this year,” said the 27-year-old.

“We’ve been expected to win the league, and rightly so, really, because we’re a big club.

“But we’ve had to cope with that. We’ve always reacted. “We started off slow. That was maybe a wake-up call for us. We’ve been consistent throughout.

“We’ve lost probably more games than we’d hoped, but we’ve finished top of the league so no-one can say anything about that.”

And finally...

Can United record a second promotion this season?

Peter Beardsley's Under-23 side face West Ham United in the Premier League 2 Division Two play-off final at St James's Park tomorrow night (7pm kick-off).

Entry is free to season-ticket holders and members. Otherwise, admission to the East Stand is £3 for adults and £1 for concessions.

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