Next Sunderland manager: Odds tumble on Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom and ex-Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka

Barnsley head coach Paul Heckingbottom

Paul Heckingbottom has become a frontrunner in the betting market to take over as the new manager of Barnsley's Championship rivals Sunderland.

Heckingbottom's odds tumbled from 16-1 into 5/6 odds on with leading bookmaker Paddy Power overnight as he became joint favourite with former Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka for the role.

Karanka's price was also shortened last night after the Spaniard posted a cryptic message on social media.

Karanka, who was sacked as Boro boss in the Premier League last season, tweeted a photo of himself at London King's Cross station with the caption; "next move".

Heckingbottom, who started his playing career on the books at Sunderland, denied any link with the Black Cats last week, committing his future to the ongoing project at Oakwell.

The Barnsley boss has been held in high regard since taking over as Barnsley head coach where he has led the club to promotion, an EFL Trophy success and survival in the Championship.

Aitor Karanka left Middlesbrough last season

Despite losing a number of key players in the summer, the 40-year-old has managed to keep Barnsley competitive in the increasingly unpredictable Championship.

Asked if the Barnsley job still satisfies his appetite, Heckingbottom said: “Yes, undoubtedly so.

“Over the years, whether I was a kid, a player, a coach, or working with the first team, there’s been umpteen opportunities to go elsewhere, but I’ve always chosen to stay here, and that’s been down to me at the time.

“Everybody knows what I think of the place. As a team, we carry on. We have to take it (the interest) as a positive because it shows we are doing something right and that’s how I look at it."

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