It was claimed by The Sun earlier this week that Steve Bruce was preparing a “formal” move for the 24-year-old, who is rated at £10million.
Burnley are also reportedly showing interest in Phillips after he played 20 games last term in Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip’s absence.
However, it is the Magpies installed as the frontrunners, with Sky Bet offering odds of 4/1 for him to arrive on Tyneside.
Bruce is in the market for a central defender this summer – Celtic’s Kristoffer Ajer, Schalke’s Ozan Kabak and Arsenal’s William Saliba are also targets.
‘I wouldn’t go any higher than £25m’
Former Newcastle defender Steve Howey believes his former club should go no higher than £25million for Joe Willock this summer.
Bruce is very keen to bring the Arsenal man back to St James’s Park next season after a hugely successful loan spell that included eight goals in 14 games.
His record-breaking seven goals in seven consecutive matches steered United away from the Premier League relegation zone and into a 12th placed finish.
Toon fans are desperate to see Willock return but Howey has urged caution over his price tag as Mikel Arteta prepares to make a concrete decision on his future.
Howey told Football FanCast: “20, 25, that would be for me. I wouldn’t go any higher than that.
"I mean, he could turn out to be absolutely outstanding but, like all players, he could just go to the club after a very impressive loan spell and not do very well.”