At this time of the year most of the talk is speculating about who might arrive at St James Park but on relegation, the chat has mainly focused on which Newcastle players will be leaving.

Newcastle fans are constantly debating the ability and attitude of various players but in reality I think we all fear that if the right offer comes in, it is hard to see Mike Ashley turning it down for any player.

However, the hope remains that Rafa Benitez will be satisfied that he is going to get the right backing and if he agrees to stay for a Championship fight, that he could have the final say on whether any player goes.

Personally, I don’t see it as a massive problem if any player is sold, with one or two rare exceptions such as Townsend and Mbemba, but that is only if Rafa Benitez is then given the freedom to bring in his own players with a minimum of most cash from sales being available to him.

Thursday morning sees claims by the Chronicle that they understand three players are high on the list of those Mike Ashley is keen to sell.

The trio all just have one year left on their contracts and so would/could leave for nothing at the end of next season.

The three in question are Cheick Tiote, Papiss Cisse and Tim Krul.

Whilst some kind of case could be made for keeping any of these three, most supporters would accept that there will be a need for some balancing of finances and none of these players are indispensable. They are some of the highest wage earners at the club and that combined with a transfer fee makes them prime targets to be sold, particularly as Tim Krul would be the only one of them who could conceivably be offered a new contract.

Tiote came into some form at the end of last season but fitness worries continue, Papiss Cisse should be able to score goals in the second tier but after watching him last season I wouldn’t be putting any of my money on that.

Whilst Tim Krul has been no better than average in recent seasons, both Rob Elliot and Karl Darlow have taken their chances, convincing many supporters that this position is one where Newcastle are relatively healthy.

With now only 79 days until the Championship kicks off, time is of the essence to restructure and rebuild a team capable of promotion at the first attempt – confirmation that Rafa Benitez is definitely staying on, can’t come quick enough.