Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez believes Huddersfield Town are automatic promotion candidates this season.
Burton Albion manager Nigel Clough suggested the Championship this season was a two-horse race after his side's defeat to the Toon, but Benitez has refuted the Brewers boss' claim.
The Spaniard is adamant that sides such as Town, Reading, Derby and Leeds United are also well in the hunt for automatic promotion.
Newcastle sit nine points ahead of third placed Reading heading into the Boxing Day fixtures, but insists a lot could still happen in the remaining 24 matches.
On Clough's claims, Benitez told the Chronicle: “I understand what he says but I don’t agree totally with him.
“I don’t agree totally because I don’t think there are only two outstanding teams. Also there are Leeds and Derby who are good teams.
“Reading are doing really well. Huddersfield Town are doing really well.
“So when you talk about six points difference, or nine points difference, it’s not massive.
“As I have said so many times before, we have seven games in April. So you have to be sure that you keep being consistent because the other teams are still winning and it’s still a long race until the end of the season.
“No [it is not just a two-horse race]. Not for me.
“I would like to be there at the top all of the time, but I’m sure it will be difficult because still the other teams are strong, and still they are winning.”
Newcastle have racked up 49 points so far this campaign and every team to have collected 49 points or more by this stage of the season have been promoted since the Championship was formed in 2003/04.
But Benitez is still pushing the Championship leaders to improve over the second half of the season.
“No - I was not expecting anything,” Benitez said when he was asked if Newcastle were ahead of where he expected them to be at this stage of the season.
“I was just convinced at the beginning of the season that we have a good team and we need to keep working and adjusting things.
“When we were winning lots of games in a row, still I was saying: ‘We can improve.’
“And still the same. Still we can improve and have more adjustments which can allow us to perform even a little bit better in these games.”