Sunderland AFC manager latest: Paul Heckingbottom leading contender to take charge, Luton Town manager 'flattered' to be linked

Barnsley manager Paul Heckingbottom.
Barnsley manager Paul Heckingbottom.
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Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom has seen his odds tumble on him becoming the next Sunderland manager.

The former Sunderland trainee has been linked with the job ever since Simon Grayson was sacked after a dismal start to the Championship campaign and his odds have been slashed over the past 24-hours.

Luton Town manager Nathan Jones.

Luton Town manager Nathan Jones.

Heckingbottom is now 2/1 second favourite with Sky Bet behind favourite Aitor Karanka, with the Barnsley boss coming in from 16-1 to 5/6 odds on with Paddy Power.

The 40-year-old is highly-rated in the game after a stunning start to his career at Barnsley. The former defender spent four years on Wearside as a youngster but never made a senior appearance.

Speaking last week, Heckingbottom said: "We had it last season and it’s part and parcel, when things are going well that’s what you want, if next January there’s X, Y, Z clubs linked with our players then it means we’re doing something right.

"It’s flattering in that respect that things are going well and you can do a job, but other than that, that is it.

"People in the North East who I already know are the first to have spoken to me about it, and that’s as far as it goes.

"Other than being asked about it now, it’s not even in my head so that’s as far as it goes."

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Meanwhile, Nathan Jones admits he is "flattered" to be have been linked with the managerial hotseat on Wearside - but insists his focus remains Luton Town.

There had been reports earlier this week that Sunderland officials had approached Luton.

A host of managers from clubs in League One and Two - including Jones, Paul Cook at Wigan Athletic and Paul Hurst at Shrewsbury Town - have been linked with the job but the Echo understands that is not currently an avenue the club is looking to go down.

Sunderland remain hopeful of appointing a new manager before next Saturday's clash with Millwall, with a short-term appointment a possibility.

When asked if he had been aware of an approach, Jones told Luton News: "Not that I know of.

"It’s very flattering, they’re a massive club, to get linked with things like that, you’re obviously doing things right in your own back yard.

"I’m always laid back about these things, if these things materialise, they materialise, right now I’m concentrating on doing well for Luton Town.

"We’re in a fantastic place here, a fantastic environment and a fantastic club.

"I’m delighted with the squad, we’ve just come off the back of a wonderful month, a win against higher league opposition, so we’re in a good place and I don’t want anything to derail that."

Jones is highly-rated and has previously been linked with jobs at Aston Villa and Wigan Athletic.

"I think it’s important you keep your feet on the ground when you hear speculation," he added'

"It’s not the first time, god willing it won’t be the last, but all you can do is just get on with your job.

"We’re in a real good place here and I love my job here."