Barnsley hoping to have new boss to face Leeds

Barnsley have narrowed their search for a new manager to just five names, with an appointment set to be made in the next week.

The Oakwell club have been inundated with applications for the manager’s post since the sacking of Keith Hill seven days ago.

The first round of interviews was conducted on Thursday with the board set to meet this weekend to discuss the final five remaining names.

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Former Doncaster Rovers boss Sean O’Driscoll, who was controversially sacked by Nottingham Forest over the festive period, is thought to be among those under consideration.

Two former managers of the Sheffield clubs – Wednesday’s Gary Megson and United’s Kevin Blackwell – have also been linked to the Oakwell role.

The imperative for the man chosen to lead Barnsley will be to steer the club out of relegation trouble, with today’s FA Cup third-round game with Burnley providing respite from the pressures of the league.

Barnsley’s general manager Don Rowing said: “There’s been some good names applying and it’s a list that has taken some whittling down.

“As a board we had a long, constructive meeting and reduced it to five names.

“The board will seriously assess every aspect of the character they want to bring in to the football club before making a decision.

“We don’t want to name names, but we accept that any manager out of work is going to be linked to the club.

“We would like to make an appointment before the visit of Leeds United next Saturday (January 12) but that is not a definitive time frame.”

David Flitcroft, who was Hill’s loyal assistant, will continue as caretaker manager for today’s visit of Burnley, although he admits he remains uncertain as to what the future holds. He said: “On Sunday morning I woke up and wanted to fight for Barnsley Football Club and the group of players that we have assembled.

“I do believe there is a fight in there which I want to continue with and I think the lads want to fight with me.

“I have turned the sacking into a positive and I really want to do well for this football club.

“I was as close as you could imagine to leaving, but there is a reason why I have not left.

“I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I know that as long as I am here I will give all I’ve got to Barnsley Football Club.”

As the Oakwell board focus on the search for Hill’s replacement, the FA Cup is very much in the forefront of minds elsewhere in the county as eight of our sides take part in today’s third round.

Unlike recent years when the likes of Leeds United have played Arsenal and Manchester United at this stage, there is no outstanding tie with Harrogate Town’s replay defeat to Hastings United preventing a derby between Middlesbrough and the Conference North club at the Riverside.

Instead, there are three all-Championship contests as Huddersfield Town travel to Charlton Athletic while Barnsley and Leeds United prepare to host Burnley and Birmingham City respectively.

Sheffield Wednesday are at home to Milton Keynes Dons and another White Rose club, Hull City, also face League One opposition in the form of Leyton Orient.

Tigers manager Steve Bruce was twice a winner of the Cup with Manchester United, in 1990 and again four years later.

However, while he admits that his two Wembley triumphs rank among the highlights of his playing career, he also recognises that the competition has lost a lot of its lustre in the modern game.

“The FA Cup is a great competition and I was privileged to win it as a player,” said the 52-year-old, whose Hull side sit second in the Championship. “But, unfortunately, the Cup doesn’t have the same ring to it as used to be the case. The third round was one of the big dates in the calendar but I’d suggest that isn’t the case any more.

“Now, the transfer window has left managers very busy dealing with potential deals in the first week of January.

“Things are going well in the league so the Cup gives me a chance to play a few of the players who haven’t been in the team much of late. Alex (Bruce) will come in, as will Paul McShane, while Aaron Mclean is another who would have played (he joined Ipswich Town yesterday on loan).

“We’ve had a busy time lately so it will be an opportunity to rest a few of those who have played in every game. Christmas and New Year is always a busy time and something has to give.

“Having said that, we still want to go through and I will be picking a team that I believe can do that.”

Simon Grayson is another Championship manager who planned to give fringe members of his squad an opportunity when Huddersfield travel to Charlton.

However, Town’s 6-1 thrashing by Leicester on New Year’s Day has changed that thinking with Grayson, whose side have not won in 10 games, looking for a strong response from his players.

He said: “What happened at Leicester means we have to draw a line in the sand. I might have been tempted to rest a few players after what has been a busy couple of weeks. But we have to bounce back so I will be sending a strong team out. The strongest I can, in fact.

“We have a few players who picked up injuries last Tuesday, but we have to get a result and performance.

“Huddersfield have had some good Cup ties in recent years. 
Arsenal and Chelsea stand out and it would be great to get through and draw another in the next round.”

Completing Yorkshire’s presence in today’s third round are Rotherham United, who travel to Aldershot Town, and Sheffield United, who also face a long trip to Oxford United.