Leeds close in on Paul Heckingbottom as Barnsley boss has talks at Elland Road
By Tim Thornton
Last Updated: 06/02/18 11:36am
Sky Sports News understands Paul Heckingbottom could be appointed Leeds head coach on Tuesday after he held talks with the Elland Road club.
The 40-year-old signed a new 12-month rolling contract at Barnsley last week but it is understood the Whites have activated a release clause in that deal after making Heckingbottom their top candidate to replace Thomas Christiansen.
Sky Sports News understands talks with Heckingbottom on Monday night progressed well and he returned to the club on Tuesday morning to finalise details.
He could take training later in the day as the Sky Bet Championship club has pushed back Tuesday's session after players had Monday off.
Heckingbottom has been praised for his work with Leeds' Yorkshire rivals Barnsley since taking over as head coach from Lee Johnson when he joined Bristol City in 2016.
The Barnsley-born former Bradford City player is all too aware of the rivalry between the two clubs and spoke of his experience growing up in South Yorkshire.
"Where I was from, you were a Barnsley fan or a Leeds fan when you played in the field behind my house," he said last Autumn.
"It was Leeds against Barnsley and the Leeds lads were always older than us and always used to kick smoke out of us. We hated Leeds and they hated us and that is how it was.
"You understand the support they have got and the size of the club and the tradition as it was always rammed down your throat with them bragging about it. It is a team everyone loves to hate."
He took the club to promotion from Sky Bet League One as caretaker and won the EFL Trophy in his first season before a 14th-place finish in the second tier last term.
Barnsley are currently 21st and just a point above the relegation places. Nevertheless, he has been credited with developing players such as Alfie Mawson, Conor Hourihane, James Bree and Sam Winnall.
Leeds are looking for a new head coach after sacking Christiansen on Sunday, following a 4-1 defeat at home to Cardiff City on Saturday.
The Whites have not won a league game since Boxing Day and have slipped out of the play-off places to 10th.