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Sunderland to monitor crunch Coleman Wales talks while Heckingbottom and McCoist discuss vacancy

Chris Coleman
Chris Coleman

Odds tumbled on Chris Coleman becoming the next Sunderland manager after Michael O’Neill fell out of the running.

Sunderland were keen to sound out O’Neill, but the Northern Ireland boss is keen on the vacant Scotland post and the Black Cats’ initial interest will not go any further.

They will keep tabs on Wales chief Coleman’s situation and are keen on the 47-year-old.

The FAW meet to discuss his future this morning. Coleman’s contract expires next month and he is thought to want assurances over the future of key members of his backroom staff before committing to a new deal.

Former Rangers boss Ally McCoist confirmed his interest in the job on talkSport radio yesterday morning and is thought to still be hopeful that he is under consideration for the job.

Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom remains in contention but remained guarded on his future when speaking to the press yesterday.

The Tykes take on Norwich City tomorrow, amid fierce speculation over Sunderland’s interest.

Heckingbottom was asked if he could rule himself out of the job and whether having a rolling contract made him more likely to leave.

He said: “Of course, I could [rule myself out], yes. But have I ever done that with any job? That is not because I (necessarily) want to go. Because if there’s nothing in it, you don’t know any possible opportunity or anything about it.

“Likewise, everybody knows how much I love it here and I’d love to stay here. But there are private things I speak about with my family.

“My focus is on my job and players and that is it. Sometimes, you cannot control what happens elsewhere and you get quizzed about things. Regardless of what I think, I have to be careful what I say.

“I am on a rolling contract. Regardless of terms, you could sign a 10-year deal. But if it is a six-month severance and a fixed amount of buy-out, that is all your contract is worth.

“The details in everybody’s contract – players and managers – are all individual to what they are happy with at the time. That is it.”

Heckingbottom admitted that the speculation had been a distraction ahead of the Norwich game but said that the club were well used to it, having lost many of their star players to other clubs in recent times.

He said: “Definitely. Firstly, I had these situations with the players last season and my focus was on not letting it be a distraction for the group. But thinking back to those days when you were a player and when you put yourself in that situation, you cannot help but consider if you know a club has bid for (you).

“For nearly 18 months, that is stuff I have been dealing with and if you are not careful about it, and don’t treat it as speculation, you can be distracted and lose focus on what your job is.

“Mine is dealing with the players and for the players it is playing football. It is something we have probably got good at for the past 18 months.

“You have to blank yourself off from it. Anything other than what is going to help me and the team is just white noise to us. We must focus on our job.

“I am here because I choose to be here,. That’s it and the only thing I know that is fact.

“Some [of the players] have asked me about it. They just have a laugh and a joke. In my time, at Barnsley, whether with myself or the players, there has always been some speculation regarding something.

“But it is literally speculation, that is it. Especially when I am dealing with some interest in players, I know some things are fact and I also know that the likelihood of it happening depends on lots of factors.

“Most of the time it is not worth thinking about until it gets to a point where you have to make a decision.”