The return of King Al

Alan Shearer is today expected to be confirmed as Newcastle’s new manager - with eight games to save his boyhood club from relegation.

Reports first emerged late last night that the 38-year-old would fill the void created by Joe Kinnear’s absence as he recovers from heart surgery.

Chris Hughton has been in charge of team affairs since early February, but has been unable to stop the slide in the club’s fortunes which began when Kevin Keegan left the club in September.

Shearer is expected to start work straight away but reports suggest he will not be unveiled to the media until tomorrow.

The Magpies sit third from bottom and two points from safety in the Barclays Premier League and face a tough run of fixtures in their fight to avoid the drop, with Guus Hiddink’s Chelsea visiting St James’ Park on Saturday.

Former England captain Shearer has made little secret of his desire to turn to management one day, and set about attaining his coaching badges while carrying out the media work which has kept him in touch with the game since his retirement three years ago.

He has on more than one occasion distanced himself from the job at Newcastle, which has become available at depressingly regular intervals over the last few years.

It is understood he was keen when Sam Allardyce was relieved of his duties in January last year, but was considered too inexperienced, and he was inevitably linked with it once again when the former Bolton boss’ successor, Keegan, sensationally quit in September.

But with the club in complete disarray on and off the field, the time may now be right to launch his managerial career.

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