Garth Crooks questions whether Chris Hughton could return to Newcastle United

Chris Hughton Newcastle

Brighton & Hove Albion boss Hughton led the Magpies to promotion at the first attempt the last time they appeared in the Championship.

Garth Crooks wonders if Chris Hughton could return to Newcastle United as manager next season.

Writing in his regular Team of the Week column for BBC Sport, Crooks said he expects Newcastle to be relegated following Sunderland's comeback victory over Chelsea at the weekend.

The Magpies trail their local rivals by a point heading into Sunday's season finale against Tottenham Hotspur, but Sam Allardyce's men have a game in hand and will guarantee their survival with a win over Everton in midweek - relegating both Newcastle and Norwich City in the process.

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez was only appointed in March and signed a three-year deal at St. James' Park.

However, the Spaniard later admitted his contract does include a get-out clause should he fail to keep the Magpies in the Premier League.

And Crooks questions whether his former Spurs teammate Hughton, who narrowly missed out on automatic promotion with Brighton & Hove Albion this season, could return to the club in place of Benitez - assuming the Seagulls fail to progress in the Championship play-offs.

"Sunderland now need one win from two games and they will send Newcastle, their arch rivals, into the Championship," Crooks explained to BBC Sport. "If that does happen, and it looks likely, will Newcastle owner Mike Ashley ask former boss Chris Hughton to bring them back up again?"

Hughton took over from Alan Shearer upon Newcastle's relegation seven years ago and led them to the title by 11 points.

The 57-year-old was controversially dismissed seven months later and went on to manage Birmingham City, Norwich and Brighton.

In his three full seasons as a Championship boss, Hughton has never failed to finish inside the top six.

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