Barnsley setback as target Ross opts to stay in Scotland

Paul Heckingbottom.
Paul Heckingbottom.
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ST MIRREN manager Jack Ross last night pulled out of the running for the vacant head coaching position at Barnsley – and has elected to stay at the Scottish Championship high-fliers.

Ross had been sounded out by the Reds hierarchy about suceeding Paul Heckingbottom at Oakwell, but is now expected to sign a new deal with the Buddies after reaffirming his commitment to the club.

It is the latest knock-back for Barnsley, who saw an approach to speak to Wycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth rebuffed earlier this week.

Ex-Alloa manager Ross, 41, only signed a new three-year deal last August – after being targetted by Dundee last summer – and he is now set to sign second improved contract in the space of six months.

The Reds have been linked with several other candidates including Swansea Under-23 chief Cameron Toshack as they seek to bring in a permanent replacement for Heckingbottom ahead of the vital relegation six-pointer with Burton on Tuesday.

Another name figuring prominently in the betting is former Bastia head coach Rui Almeida, with the Portuguese currently a free agent, while current caretaker head coach Paul Harsley is also another option.

Rotherham United defender Joe Mattock faces a race against time to be fit for tomorrow’s League One showdown at fellow promotion-chasers Shrewsbury Town, managed by ex-Millers full-back Paul Hurst.

Mattock, an impressive ever-present during the club’s fine 12-match unbeaten streak, came off during Tuesday’s 3-1 home win over Oxford United with a tight hamstring and will be assessed today.

Manager Paul Warne said: “Joe is touch and go. We are hoping he will be on the grass on Friday.

“We pulled him off on Tuesday as a precaution. If there is any risk, I won’t play him on Saturday.

“He has been a big part of how we play. He gives us great balance. He is a good attacking left-back and he has a good relationship with (left winger) Joe Newell.

“I am hopeful he will be available, but I am not honestly sure whether he will be.”

Left-sided central defender Michael Ihiekwe came on for Mattock in midweek and operated at left-back and will battle it out with Ben Purrington for the position, should Mattock fail to make tomorrow’s game against league leaders Shrewsbury.

Purrington is a recognised left-back, but has found opportunities hard to come by for a number of months, while being hampered by hamstring trouble for a considerable spell.

The former Plymouth Argyle defender, 21, has not appeared since being injured in the first half of the 2-0 loss at Blackburn Rovers towards the end of September.