Kelly, now assistant manager at Nottingham Forest, told the Evening Chronicle: "I am surprised to see Newcastle in the position they are in, and it must be a big concern for everyone in the city. I loved my time at Newcastle - it's a fantastic place to play football and I can't imagine them not being in the Premier League.
"But they've got a chance of getting out of it. I still stay in touch with Chris, who I know from our Ireland days, and he's a top guy and one of the most professional men you could possibly hope to meet.
"He's a top coach and I think everyone in the game knows that.
"No-one is hurting more than he is at the situation Newcastle find themselves in, and he is working day and night to get them out of it.
"It's not an ideal situation with Joe being out and, of course, everyone wishes him all the best. If he comes back then that's great - but I know that Newcastle are in capable hands with Chris there."