Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom on Sunderland links

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Paul Heckingbottom insists his focus is on Barnsley amid fierce speculation regarding the vacant Sunderland role.

The Black Cats have identified Heckinbgottom as one of the main contenders to succeed Simon Grayson, alongside Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill.

Barnsley face Norwich on Saturday afternoon and their manager would not be drawn on the links with the Black Cats.

He told the Yorkshire Post: "We have been sat here before, so the situation is no different.

“I have been asked these sorts of questions before about different clubs at different times. It is just what happens in football, it is all hypothetical.

“Until anything happens, I can’t tell you because I don’t know the club’s thoughts on it or my thoughts on it.

Heckingbottom is one of Sunderland's preferred candidates to succeed Simon Grayson

Heckingbottom is one of Sunderland's preferred candidates to succeed Simon Grayson

“We’ve obviously spoken and had these conversations (him and Barnsley) but they will remain private.

“As it stands there is nothing in it.

“It is not being big-headed in any way, but you would like to think you are on people’s lists. Whether they will take it any further is down to them, but it is no different to me sitting here before when I have been asked similar questions about other situations.”

Read the latest on Sunderland's manager search here