Sunderland weigh up approach for Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom

Barnsley manager Paul Heckingbottom
Barnsley manager Paul Heckingbottom
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Sunderland’s search for a new manager continues, 10 days after the departure of Simon Grayson.

Paul Heckingbottom, whose name has been discussed amongst the Sunderland hierarchy, was the big mover in yesterday’s betting market, and is very highly rated in the game after a stunning start to his managerial career with Barnsley.

Heckingbottom, who is on a 12 month rolling contract at Oakwell, presided over the Tykes promotion to the Championship before a superb debut campaign in the second tier last season.

He has regularly reaffirmed his happiness with life at his boyhood club, saying last week: “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.”

Aitor Karanka remains the bookmakers favourite but as of Thursday morning there had been no contact between the two parties.

Karanka is out of work and would be open to talks but having turned down the opportunity to manage Birmingham and La Liga side Alaves, Sunderland would face a difficult challenge convincing the Spaniard to take the role.

He told Goals on Sunday in May that he was no rush to return to management: “I can’t throw out everything that got me to this point (in my career) so I need a good project.

“I need to be sure that I am arriving at the right place to keep developing my career.”

Ally McCoist remains strongly linked to the role.

The former Rangers boss is a close friend of chief executive Martin Bain and is thought to be keen on a return to management three years after leaving Ibrox.

Walter Smith, who advised Bain in the summer, has been linked with a switch alongside McCoist but the prospect of the 69-year-old returning to the game in a day to day capacity is slim.