HULL CITY hope to have their new manager in place within the next 24 hours, The Yorkshire Post understands.
The Tigers, who have offered an extended contract to Mohamed Diame after Newcastle United triggered a £4.5m buyout clause in his existing deal, fly out to Austria today for a two-game tour that will bring the curtain down on what has been a troubling pre-season.
Steve Bruce’s decision to walk out 12 days ago after disagreements over the club’s transfer policy kick-started a search for a successor that is now believed to be down to the final stages.
An initial five-man shortlist – drawn up in the wake of Bruce being interviewed by the Football Association over the then vacant England job last month – has been whittled down to just two names.
Gianfranco Zola, Roberto Martinez and Chris Coleman are all understood to have been spoken to by the club along with caretaker chief Mike Phelan. Overtures were also made to a big name foreign candidate, but he opted to stay with his club on the continent.
Vice chairman Ehab Allam, who in the past has praised former Watford and West Ham United manager Zola, is expected to arrive at Hull’s training camp near the German border today, after which the hope is that a swift appointment can be made.
If all goes to plan, the new man should be in attendance when the Tigers take on Caykur Rizepor tomorrow in their penultimate pre-season friendly.
With the new Premier League campaign – and an opening-day meeting with champions Leicester City – just 11 days away, time is clearly of the essence for a club who are still waiting to make a signing of note.
Whoever gets the nod will have to move quickly in terms of bolstering a squad that has already suffered four long-term injuries with captain Michael Dawson, goalkeeper Allan McGregor, full-back Moses Odubajo and defender Alex Bruce all facing lengthy absences.
Also in the ‘in-tray’ of the new manager will be Diame, who is wanted by Rafael Benitez to lead Newcastle’s attempts to win promotion back to the top flight at the first attempt. He is seen as a straight replacement for Moussa Sissoko, who is expected to leave St James’ Park in the near future.
Twenty-nine-year-old Diame is in the final year of his existing contract, which includes the buyout that the Magpies have just triggered. Other clubs are also understood to be tracking Diame but, as yet, Newcastle are the only club to make a concrete offer.
Hull, however, are keen to keep hold of the man who clinched promotion last May with a stunning winner at Wembley against Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship play-off final.
It is understood Hull are to offer Diame an improved contract to keep him at the KCOM Stadium until 2019.
Diame, who has also been on Crystal Palace’s radar this summer, will not join up with the rest of the squad in flying out to Austria today due to having a prior appearance in court. Hull do, though, expect the Senegal international to join up with the rest of the squad in Austria tomorrow.
The Tigers – who hope to give some much-needed game time to Abel Hernandez, Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore in Austria – are due to face Torino on Saturday before returning to England.
Elsewhere, Leeds United were last night hoping to finalise a deal to bring Spain international Pablo Hernandez on an initial six-month loan.
The 31-year-old is understood to have passed a medical as talks continue over the former Swansea City man’s possible loan switch from Qatari club, Al-Arabi.
Garry Monk knows Hernandez well from their time together at the Liberty Stadium as the United chief closes in on his seventh summer signing. Hernandez, who cost Swansea £5.5m, spent last season on loan at La Liga outfit Rayo Vallecano.
One transfer deal that did go through yesterday involved an Elland Road old boy as Matthew Kilgallon joined Bradford City on a one-year deal. The agreement includes a possible further 12-month extension.
The 32-year-old York-born defender was released by Blackburn Rovers at the end of last season. He made 11 appearances for the Lancashire club in 2015-16.
City manager Stuart McCall was keen to strengthen a defence that has lost Reece Burke since the end of last season following the Player of the Year’s return to parent club West Ham United.
Rory McArdle is also out until September along with right-back Stephen Darby, while Christopher Routis left Valley Parade for Ross County during the summer.
“I have spoken to a number of people at Blackburn Rovers and they were all very positive about him,” said McCall about Kilgallon, who joined Sheffield United for a £1.75m fee in 2007.
“He is coming here hungry. He also feels that coming to Bradford will give him the opportunity to play higher up the leagues again.”