Belgian manager makes Newcastle prediction

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez during the press conference

Will Newcastle United win promotion into the Premier League?

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez during the press conference

Quoted by The Chronicle, Lokeren boss George Leekens is supremely confident that Rafael Benitez will lead Newcastle United back into the Premier League at the first time of asking.

The Magpies are set for a stint in the Championship this season after Benitez - who only replaced Steve McClaren at the end of March - failed to keep them in the top tier last term.

Newcastle have sold six players since the relegation and at losing two of those - Georginio Wijnaldum and Andros Townsend, easily two of United's better players last term - has certainly hindered their promotion chances.

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez during the press conference

But Benitez has also signed six new players and the Spanish manager may able to reinvest the £25 million brought in from Wijnaldum's sale back into the playing staff.

Leekens saw for himself at how devastating this new-look Newcastle side can be after his Lokeren outfit lost 4-0 in a friendly this past weekend, and the Belgian manager would certainly put his money on a promotion-winning season for the North-East giants this season.

Liverpool's Connor Randall and Dejan Lovren in action with Newcastle's Ayoze Perez

“We played against a team and club that will be back very fast into the Premier League," he's quoted as saying by The Chronicle.

“I think when you look at the quality of their side and their coach I know I can put my money on Newcastle this season.”

A brace from Ayoze Perez, either side of another from Daryl Janmaat, helped Newcastle into a 3-0 lead in Belgium, before January signing Jonjo Shelvey made a near-instant impact by netting three minutes after coming on at half time.

Crystal Palace's Joel Ward in action with Newcastle's Ayoze Perez

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