NEWCASTLE UNITED face a huge battle to persuade Roberto Martinez to give up the chance of leading Belgium to Euro 2020 glory in order to take over at St James’ Park.

Martinez is one of Newcastle’s leading candidates to replace Rafael Benitez, and the Magpies hierarchy are understood to have opened up an informal line of contact to the 45-year-old and his representatives.

Newcastle are yet to make a formal approach to the Belgian FA, but a move is anticipated as they look to resolve their managerial situation before the first-team squad fly to China for the Premier League Asia Cup.

Newcastle’s non-international players returned to the club’s Darsley Park training ground this morning, with Under-23s duo Neil Redfearn and Ben Dawson in charge.

Lee Charnley has been charged with the task of securing a permanent appointment, but a move for Martinez would encounter a number of problems.

While the former Everton boss is keen to return to the Premier League, having last managed in the English top-flight in 2016, he is also desperate to lead Belgium into next summer’s Euro 2020 finals, where they will almost certainly start as one of the favourites to lift the trophy.

Having presided over Belgium’s campaign at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, which ended when they suffered a narrow semi-final defeat to the eventual winners France, Martinez feels he has unfinished business on the international stage.

However, it is understood that Mike Ashley and Charnley have categorically ruled out a future manager of Newcastle sharing the job with another post.

Last summer, Ashley was willing to allow Benitez to lead Spain in the World Cup when the then Magpies manager was touted as a possible short-term replacement for Julen Lopetegui, who was removed from his post in the build-up to the tournament, but that would have been on a purely temporary basis for the duration of Spain’s involvement in Russia.

If Martinez was to share his responsibilities with Belgium with Newcastle’s manager job, he would be away on international duty for huge chunks of the autumn, something the Magpies hierarchy are not willing to countenance.

Instead, they will have to persuade Martinez it is worth walking out on Belgium in order to take up a full-time position on Tyneside.

The Northern Echo: Everton manager Roberto Martinez, pictured, has signed Switzerland Under-21 forward Shani Tarashaj

The ongoing uncertainty over Ashley’s future ownership of the club would undoubtedly be a factor in any discussions, but Newcastle could offer Martinez a significant increase on his current earnings.

The Spaniard, who started his managerial career with Swansea City and Wigan Athletic, is currently paid around £1m-a-year by the Belgian FA, whereas Benitez was earning £6m-a-year when he was employed by Newcastle. If Charnley was able to offer Martinez the same salary Benitez was earning, it would represent a huge hike.

Charnley can also offer a route back to the Premier League, in charge of a club with the potential to take on the teams in the top half of the table. For all the issues currently playing out at St James’ Park, Newcastle remain an attractive proposition in terms of where they could develop to in the future, although anyone agreeing to sign up on a long-term deal inevitably demand some cast-iron guarantees about what would happen in the event of a change of ownership.