Sheffield United could appoint Alexander Blessin as manager before season ends, according to reports in Belgium

Sheffield United could appoint Alexander Blessin as their new manager before the end of the season, if reports in Belgium are to be believed.

MANAGERIAL TARGET? Sheffield United are thought to be one of a number of clubs interested in Oostende's German coach Alexander Blessin

Paul Heckingbottom has been appointed as interim manager until the end of the campaign, but the former Barnsley, Leeds United and Hibernian manager says he has no ambition to take the job full-time and plans to return to his previous role in charge of the under-23s at the end of the campaign.

Oostende coach Blessin has emerged as a candidate for the permanent role, and reports in Belgium suggest the club are preparing to lose the German soon, perhaps even before the campaign is out.

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With relegation all but guaranteed and with Darren Currie and Graham Coughlan filling Heckingbottom's shoes in the short-term, there might seem little point in rushing through an appointment before the season is out, but the Blades are not the only club thought to be showing an interest, and they may feel the need to steal a march.

German coaches and their "gegenpress" style of play are very much en vogue at the moment, and the Blades have a keen eye for Belgian football.

Oostende's top-flight rivals Beerschot are part of the global network of clubs the Blades are building and as well as being a football adviser to the board – some believe a de facto director of football for the group – Belgian Jan van Winckel is director of professional coaches in his homeland.

Forty-seven-year-old Blessin is in his first senior coaching role at Oostende, but previously worked with the juniors at RB Leipzig. The Red Bull youth set-up is highly regarded and as well as producing players has also unearthed some top coaches, such as Gerhard Struber, who saved Barnsley from Championship relegation last season, and Marco Rose, who will be Borussia Dortmund's coach next season.

Oostende – fourth in the table, three places above Beerschot – are themselves part of a larger network of clubs, co-owned by Barnsley chairman Chien Lee, who also has stakes in Swiss outfit Thun, French side Nancy and Danish club Esbjerg.

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